FRANCO- AFRICA PARTNERSHIP UNDER PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON

Aliyu Othman, Abuja

As the new President of France, Emmanuel Macron takes over the mantle of power, a new vista has been opened not only in France politics but also in world politics especially in Africa and other developing nations.

The Emergence of the 39 year old  Macron, the centrist party candidate who defeated the far right candidate Marine Le Pen at the run-off  presidential election held on May 7, made the coast now very clear for the new leader to work the talk in parliamentary democracy in France,

President Macron who was born on December 21, 1977 in the northern city of Amiens Somme, now becomes the youngest Frenchman to be elected president after Napoleon Bonaparte.

Macron attended the prestigious Paris Nanterre University and graduated with a Degree in Philosophy and later a Master of Public Affairs from Sciences Po and later in 2004 Ecole Nationale D’administration or the National School of Administration.

His political career after a successful banking career started with his appointment as Deputy Secretary General under former president Francois Holland’s government in 2012.

In 2014 he resigned as the Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs to form a new party called En Marchel, a centrist political party  under which he contested and won the election.

In his victory speech, Mr Macron emphasised the need for national unity, as the task ahead required the commitment of all French citizens based on what he described as huge challenges facing France now.

He was emphatic about fighting terrorism as he pledged to be on the fore front to guarantee peace for all French citizens, to enable them break from the recent past that witnessed series of attacks on the nation by ISIS terrorists.

Macron during his election campaign focused more on closer European cooperation, spoke against policies that target religious minorities and promised to reduce public spending as well as corporate and wealth taxes in France. This policy direction endeared him more to French voters thereby making him a candidate of choice even before the second ballot.

It is expected that President Macron will choose a Prime Minster that will help him achieve the promises he made to French citizens. Anything short of this will likely affect his political coalition and party’s chances to get majority in the parliament to form the next government.

Macron has assured French citizens that he will choose as prime minister “someone with experience in politics and the skills to lead a parliamentary majority”. 

His main opponent Marine La Pen of the National Front party, concentrated her energy against the Europe Union, immigration and against Islam, blaming the three issues for every bad thing in France. She offered to call for a referendum on EU membership within six months after her possible election which never came.

The French election also generated a lot of interest in Europe but more critically in Africa based on the link between many Francophone nations that were under the tutelage of France which has continued to dominate their economic and political decisions up till date and other nations that France has predominated their economic and security interests in recent years.

Leading African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Angola, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, and many others enjoyed significant trade relations that made them countries of choice for the over 5,000 French companies that invest in the continent.

Nigeria as one of the major recipient of Foreign Direct Investments from France secured about 30% of most investments by France to achieve the set target, in 2014, of increasing trade and investments, with French companies in Nigeria by 50%, amounting to investments flow from over $ 6.4 billion to $12.7 billion by 2018.

The Nigeria-France Trade and Investment Council should see the in-coming government as an opportunity to step up trade relations between both countries by engaging leading French companies in business discussions that will bring more investments into Nigeria and fast track the realization of the common objectives in the coming years under the Macron presidency.

The deliberate policy of the immediate past President Holland in the last two years should be sustained and continued by President Macron to enable France and Nigeria as well as other African countries to cooperate in wider areas for mutual benefits of all in the years ahead.

These expectations in effect contributed to the African nations’ desire for not only peaceful election in France but also the emergence of President Macron to continue the investments flows to Africa needed to fast track the growth and development of the continent.

The victory of young Macron has raised the beacon of hope for African youth who are agitating for a generational change in Africa  for a better future, to aspire to the highest office of president or prime minister in their respective countries in order to bring about new crop of leaders that will serve as the engine of growth and development.

President Macron cannot afford to fail the French citizens in the many promises he made to improve governance and promote liberty or the youth who look up to him as a model and mentor in other nations of the world especially Africa for the desired cooperation and partnership.