President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday acknowledged that in the build-up to the 2023 elections, Nigeria’s politics will be “necessarily rowdy”.
He said: “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.”
He however warned diplomats in the country to steer clear of “our politics”.
The President spoke while receiving Letters of Credence from ambassadors of Japan, European Union (EU), Burundi, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Cape Verde, France, Qatar; and High Commissioners of Sierra Leone and Ghana at the Presidential Villa.
He advised the envoys to be guided strictly by diplomatic practices by ensuring that their activities remain within the limits of their profession.
He said: “Nigeria’s national elections are due in early 2023. The momentum for enhanced political activities is therefore expected to commence soon.”
He added: “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.”
The President told the newly accredited envoys that he looked forward to a more robust relationship with their home countries.
He listed Education, Health, Transportation and Agricultural sectors as areas open to foreign direct investments, assuring that he will welcome improved bilateral relations, especially in wider trading and cultural contacts.
The President acknowledged that while Nigeria enjoys very cordial bilateral relations with the aforementioned countries, their diplomatic representatives must work harder to enhance the relationship in the interest of the countries.
He said: “‘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.”
On security, the President told the envoys that more partnerships were needed to fully overcome daunting challenges in the country.
He said: “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, the first is that insecurity linked to terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cybercrimes, and maritime issues, are trans-border 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.”
Speaking on behalf of the envoys, Japanese Ambassador Matsunaga Kazuyoshi pledged their willingness to strengthen existing bilateral relations with Nigeria, assuring that they would work together and explore ways to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other accredited envoys are: Leena Pylvanainen (Finland); Samuela Isopi (EU); 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).
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The High Commissioners are Sydney Dowu Davies (Sierra Leone) and Alhaji Rashid Bawa (Ghana).