By Lamin Cham
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is 62 years old. To mark the event the Nigeria High Commission in Banjul on Saturday hosted a reception at the Coco Ocean Hotel where Gambian and Nigerian officials and residents as well as representatives of other countries in The Gambia mingled and exchanged solidarity.
The High Commissioner H.E Muhamed Manu welcome the dignitaries and gave an updated picture of the great journey of this most populous nation in Africa.
“Our Nation’s journey towards economic and political development, like many developing countries is faced with some challenges and the most recent of which is the security challenge. However, despite these challenges, we have reasons to be proud of our dear nation and be assured that as Nigeria came out of a much bigger challenge, of Civil War in the past strong and united, it is certain the country would emerge victorious and stronger at the end of the current security challenges of terrorism and banditry”, the High Commissioner said. He continued to disclose that since coming to power in 2015, President Buhari has made the issue of national security as one of his government’s priority and at this point, the administration has recorded great success in its war against terrorism and banditry as demonstrated by the recapturing of many areas by the Nigerian Army and normalcy has since returned to these areas as well as normal business activities.
“Nigeria has also recorded unprecedented progress in the area of infrastructural development, agriculture as well as political and social development. It could be seen today that the administration of President Muhammad Buhari, has shown great commitments to certain critical projects such as Deep-Sea Ports, new airports terminals as well as renovation and construction of various railway projects, Network of Gas and Power Infrastructures, roads and bridges including the second Niger bridge. At this juncture, I wish to assure that Nigeria is not only committed to its development but also that of its sister African countries,” he said.
Nigeria- Gambia relations
The High Commissioner noted that Nigeria-Gambia relations have been very cordial and have continued to grow since diplomatic relations was established after independence and that Nigeria is always proud to be a close ally and development partner with the Gambia. ”Our country will continue to support, collaborate with the Government of the Gambia in relevant areas, for sustainable development. The two countries have always supported each other politically, economically and in several international fora. In support of The Gambian Government’s efforts, the Federal Republic of Nigeria has continued to deploy Technical Aid Corps Volunteers (TAC) to The Gambia which currently totals twenty-five (25) TAC, many of them Professors who are lecturers in various fields, medical practitioners and judicial officials. This assistance amounts to millions of US Dollars, biennially,” he said.
He further said in the promotion of regional peace, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also deployed military personnel to the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia, ECOMIG. He also thanked the people and Government of the Gambia under President Adama Barrow, for the valuable contributions towards existing cordial relations between our countries and assure of the continued cooperation of the people and government of Nigeria.
The director of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Omar Baldeh deputised for his Minister and paid tribute to the cordial ties between The Gambia and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dr Baldeh said the close and historical relationship between The Gambia and the Federal Republic of Nigeria is founded on strong bonds of solidarity and friendship.
”This close and guinuine tie is a testimony in itself of the importance The Gambia places on the relations that exist between our two nations. Today as we celebrate the Independence Day of Nigeria, w e also celebrate the success of Nigeria. The journey of sixty-two (62) years in the life of Nigeria as a nation has been challenging. However, Nigeria has stood up and has become a giant and a reference for the sub-region and the international community. The government of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari above all has shown leadership and committment in overcoming the key challenges and paved way for a stronger, prosperous and more united country and region. The Gambia considers the Federal Republic of Nigeria as an essential and required development partner and a key country in the socio-economic development of the Gambia. The Republic of The Gambia appreciates the role of the Government of Nigeria in moblising both financial and material resources for the transition of the new dispensation and its stabilisation efforts,” Dr Baldeh said on behalf of Minister Tangara.
He further expressed sincere appreciation of the Government of Ngeria’s wise counsel, unflinching support, kindness and for standing solidly behind the Gambia’s bid for the Presidency of the ECOWAS Commission through its successful outcome. ”The Government of The Gambia and Government of Nigeria have always had a good military and defence cooperation which stems from the First Republic. The Gambia through the Nigeria Technical Aid Cooperation programme is providing technical assistance support in all its key development sectors,” he added.
The event was also marked by a display of various traditional Nigerian music groups who entertained the guests with a taste of Nigeria’s diverse culture and tradition.