As build-up to 2023 general elections thickens, President Muhammadu Buhari has urged foreign envoys in Nigeria to be guided by diplomatic practices and ensure that their activities remain within the limits of their profession before, during and after the exercise.
He noted that it was important for the envoys to refrain from meddling into the country’s election, adding that the ambassadors must do all within their powers to remain apolitical and face the serious business of diplomacy such that would benefit their countries and Nigeria.
Receiving Letters of Credence at State House from the Ambassadors of Japan, European Union, Burundi, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Cape Verde, France, Qatar; and High Commissioners of Sierra Leone and Ghana, the president told them that they were assuming diplomatic responsibilities in Nigeria at a very interesting political period.
The newly accredited Ambassadors are Matsunaga Kazuyoshi (Japan), Leena Pylvanainen (Finland), Samuela Isopi (European Union), Maria Jeanne Ntakirutimana (Burundi) Monsieur Sune Krogstrup (Denmark), Sile Maguire (Ireland), Belarmino Silva (Cape Verde), Ali Ghanem Ali Alfahed Alhajri (Qatar) and Emmanuella Blatmann (France). While the High Commissioners are Sydney Dowu Davies (Sierra Leone) and Alhaji Rashid Bawa (Ghana).
Speaking after receiving the letters, Buhari explained to the envoys that Nigeria’s national elections are due in early 2023 and that the momentum for enhanced political activities was therefore expected to commence soon.
According to him, the nature of our politicking often gives the impression of very rancorous engagements. It is the nature of politics here. Besides, democracy and related democratic activities in the build-up to elections are necessarily rowdy and very argumentative, but very much within the limits of freedom of action that the art of democracy permits.
‘‘As you settle down in the face of these developments, it is my hope that you will also be guided by diplomatic practices, to ensure that your activities remain within the limits of your profession,’’ Buhari said.
The president told the newly accredited envoys that he looked forward to a more robust relationship with each of their countries. He declared that Nigeria is open to more foreign direct investments in the Education, Health, Transportation and Agricultural sectors, and would welcome improved bilateral relations, especially in wider trading and cultural contacts.
Buhari acknowledged that while Nigeria enjoys very cordial bilateral relations with the aforementioned countries, their diplomatic representatives must work harder to enhance this level of relationship in the interest of the peoples of our countries.
‘‘It is my hope that, as you settle down to your responsibilities of promoting unity, amity, enhanced understanding, better economic opportunities and the pursuit of peace between your respective countries and the Federal Government of Nigeria, you will make it a point of duty to appreciate our country’s diversity as a source of not only pride but advantage as we are definitely stronger together.
‘‘You will find in us as people, the level of vibrancy that defines us, as uniquely Nigerian, eager to make friends, learn other people’s way of living and imbued with great appetite for adaptation. Excellencies, the world will definitely be a better place and much easier place to live in if all cultivate the culture of patience and tolerance in order to appreciate the values of each of us and the contributions that we all can make, for sustainable peace and development, globally,’’ he said.
On security, president Buhari told the ambassadors that more partnerships were needed to fully overcome daunting challenges in the country and root out all terrorists across Nigeria.
‘‘As a Government and as a nation, we continue to make steady progress despite daunting challenges, notably in the area of security. Different factors accounted for this, amongst which are, first, that insecurity linked to terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cybercrimes, and maritime issues, are transborder acts that go beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain.
‘‘That is why, matters of security have become the business of all the nations of the world to work together to overcome. Second, our borders are very long and porous, and their effective policing has become a daunting challenge.
‘‘Third, easy circulation of small arms and light weapons, from the Sahel-Libya axis and the Central African region, have made access to these weapons readily available which inevitably compounds our national and regional security. Despite these huge challenges, concerted efforts by Government and our Armed Forces have accounted for the largely degraded capacities of terrorists across the country,’’ he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Ambassadors, the Japanese Ambassador pledged that they are willing to strengthen existing bilateral relations with Nigeria, assuring that they would work together and explore ways to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.