President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s commitment on Wednesday to collaborating with Guinea-Bissau and other nations to uphold and strengthen democracy and good governance across the African continent.
During a one-day state visit to the troubled West African nation, President Buhari provided the assurance and praised the people for supporting the democratically elected government of President Umaro Sissoco Embaló in the face of threats from anti-democratic elements.
The Amilcar Cabral Award, the nation’s highest honour, and the renaming of a significant thoroughfare in Bissau, the nation’s capital, were both welcomed by the President.
“During this one-day official visit to Bissau today, we had the chance to evaluate the status of our bilateral relations and to share concerns on the challenges facing us in the region,” he said. I am grateful for both the naming of two roads in my honour and receiving the highest honour from Guinea-Bissau.
“I sincerely thank you, your administration, and the citizens of this wonderful nation. All of these, in my opinion, were made possible by Nigeria’s tenacious efforts to keep Guinea Bissau on the side of democratic governance.
“Nigeria’s firm stance through ECOWAS in insisting and pushing for the full implementation of the Conakry Peace Agreement by imposing penalties on nineteen (19) individuals who obstructed the Conakry Agreement’s implementation helped to restore the peace that currently reigns in Guinea Bissau.
“Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau have made significant progress. Our friendly ties go back to Nigeria’s support of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde during Guinea Bissau’s war of independence from Portugal.
Nigeria has made significant direct contributions as well as supporting international efforts on the peace process in Guinea Bissau during pivotal points in this country’s history, both independently and through ECOWAS.
This reality has strengthened our ties and increased mutual understanding and trust between our two nations.
The President then thanked the Guineans for supporting Abhay, whom he affectionately refers to as “the vibrant and visionary President Embalo.”
He urged the Bissau-Guineans to back the establishment of democratic principles in their nation, saying:
“You should always make sure that the election is held in a free and fair manner.”
President Muhammadu Buhari assured President Embalo at the end of his speech that Nigeria will continue to be committed to enhancing bilateral and multilateral collaboration with Guinea Bissau.
The president of Guinea-Bissau hailed Nigeria for supporting the country consistently during its 20-year period of instability.
“We appreciate your help in the elections. You contributed to the stabilisation of Guinea-Bissau. I can promise you that the people, who as you can see flocked to greet you, are very appreciative of your support for democracy in this nation and the entire subregion.
President Embalo gave President Buhari the assurance that he would follow in his footsteps by ensuring that free and fair elections would be held in his nation and by departing on schedule when his term was up.
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He also complimented the President for providing the nation with 70 doctors who serve as trainers of Guineans and surgeons without their nationals having to go to Portugal.
President Embalo commented on the “Amilcar Cabral Award” given to the President and the major street being renamed Muhammadu Buhari Boulevard. He said the two occasions represented the most solemn moment of the nation and a recognition of the stabilising role President Buhari is playing in the life of his country as well as his defence of democracy and its values throughout the subregion.
Even after leaving office, President Embalo promised to re-invite President Buhari to dedicate the new Presidential Villa, which is currently being built. The building will be known as Muhammadu Buhari Villa.
Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno, National Security Advisor, Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, and Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Director General of the National Intelligence Agency got the nation’s merit award.
The other two are Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, the State Chief of Protocol, and Sarki Abba, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Matters.
After arriving in Katsina, the President is currently in Daura, his hometown.