Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday pledged Nigeria’s preparedness to abide by the decision of the tripartite committee comprising Nigeria, Benin and Niger Republic on the partial closure of the country’s land borders whenever the report is submitted.
He also said Nigeria was putting measures in place to secure the Gulf of Guinea, following his meeting with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
The president made the pledge on border reopening when he hosted the outgoing President of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), Mr. Bashir Mamman Ifo, and his successor, Dr George Nana Donkor, in Abuja.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari told his guests that the partial closure of the borders had brought immense benefits to the country.
‘‘We have saved millions of dollars. We have realised that we don’t have to import rice. We have achieved food security. We have curtailed the importation of drugs and proliferation of small arms, which threaten our country,’’ he said.
According to the statement, Buhari thanked Ifo for the successes recorded in his eight-year tenure and advised his successor to sustain the achievements.
The statement quoted the Ifo as telling Buhari that the bank had witnessed a transformation from its old status as a loss-making organisation to a profit-generating bank.
He added that commitments from ECOWAS member-states had doubled to $1.4 billion.
Donkor also thanked Buhari and Nigerians for their support towards his emergence as Ifo’s successor, noting that ‘‘without Nigeria, I could not have emerged.”
He acknowledged Buhari’s economic strategies as reflected in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), saying the document has brought about economic recovery, stability and food security in the country.
Donkor pledged his total commitment to partnering Nigeria towards achieving rapid development in the country and the rest of West Africa.
Also yesterday, Buhari said Nigeria was putting measures in place to secure the Gulf of Guinea, following his meeting with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
He made the remarks while receiving letters of credence from the Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Edu Ngua Mangue.
Buhari also canvassed stronger diplomatic relations with Greece and Cuba, saying it will foster Nigeria’s ongoing efforts to diversify the economy, improve global competitiveness and reposition the country to play more leading roles.
Another statement by Adesina said the president, while receiving letters of credence from the Greek Ambassador to Nigeria, Monsieur Loannis Plotas, noted that the long standing diplomatic and business relations with the country would be strengthened for mutual benefits, adding that most global challenges would require collective efforts to secure lasting solutions.
Plotas in his remarks, stated that Nigeria had had business ties with Greece, particularly with the latter’s flour mills, which employed about 50, 000 Nigerians at a given time in the country’s history, saying he was proud to serve the European nation in Nigeria.
“I am very proud to be my country’s ambassador at such a historic moment when we will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of Nigeria, while my country will be celebrating its 200 years anniversary this year,’’ he said.
The ambassador pledged to continuously support and project Nigeria’s image across Europe.
Also, Buhari, while receiving letters of credence from the Ambassador of Cuba to Nigeria, Clara Margarita Pulido Escandell, said cultural similarities between Nigeria and Cuba should promote effective partnerships, especially on trade.
Buhari said Cuba’s efforts in developing medicine and engineering could provide a springboard.
“President Buhari said Nigeria received support at international forums from Cuba for many years, assuring that the bilateral relations would be strengthened,” the statement said.
The statement quoted the Ambassador of Cuba as saying she was proud to be deployed to serve in Nigeria, noting that the history of Cuba cannot be told without reference to Nigeria.
“I am proud to serve in Nigeria. The history of Cuba is incomplete without Nigeria and Nigerians. We always recall that some of the slaves brought into our country were Nigerians, and they played great roles in the development of the country.
“That’s why we are mixed blood. Also, Your Excellency, your personal venture, integrity and your voice at the UN General Assembly in projecting Nigeria is outstanding,’’ she said.