Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday pledged that Nigeria would continue to assist Guinea-Bissau in any way possible, saying ‘‘a peaceful and prosperous Guinea-Bissau is a win for West Africa and for Africa.’’
Buhari made this pledge when he joined his counterparts from Senegal, Mauritania and Burkinafaso to celebrate the 47th independence anniversary of Guinea Bissau at the 24 de Setembro National Stadium, Bissau.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari, while speaking at the event, said he was proud of the support Nigeria provided for the country’s past electoral processes in its efforts to entrench democracy.
‘‘This support can only be increased under my tenure,’’ he said.
Adesina said the president also placed on record Nigeria’s deployment of troops under the auspices of ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB), saying the troops played an important role in maintaining peace and security.
Buhari congratulated President Umaro Sissocco Embalo, the government and people of Guinea Bissau on the occasion of their 47th independence anniversary, praying that Guinea-Bissau and its people will continue to grow in strength and prosperity.
Noting that it was his first official visit to the country since he became president in 2015, Buhari expressed his good wishes for greater achievements in the years ahead for the West African country.
‘‘I feel delighted because this is my first official visit to Guinea Bissau since my assumption of office in 2015 and because I am here to join you, brotherly people of Guinea Bissau, as you celebrate this great day with renewed hope and aspiration.
‘‘I am truly grateful for the warm reception accorded me and my delegation, since our arrival in this city.
‘‘As you mark your freedom as a nation ‘free forever,’ let me seize this opportunity to salute all Bissau Guineans both at home as well as in the Diaspora, for the strides you have made as a country. Permit me to say Parabens! Congratulations!’’ he said.
The president recalled how Guinea Bissau obtained its independence from Portugal, after a protracted struggle for freedom, which brought Portuguese colonisation to an end.
‘‘It is fitting on this august occasion to remember your forebears and to celebrate them for the sacrifices they made for you to be free.
‘‘The highest tribute we can pay them is to build on the gains of independence. It is my sincere prayer that your country will continue on the path of national cohesion, growth and unity,’’ he said.
He used the occasion to reflect on Nigeria’s relations with Guinea, pledging that his administration will take it to a new height.
‘‘Relations between Nigeria and the Republic of Guinea Bissau which dates back to the country’s liberation struggle against Portugal have been extremely warm.
‘‘I am determined to carry this excellent relationship to the next level of fruitful cooperation and partnership, together with my brother Umaro Embalo,’’ he said.
On regional integration, Buhari emphasised the need for ECOWAS member countries to remain committed to the realisation of the vision of its founding fathers.
‘‘It is my desire that Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau as well as other member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will continue to provide the impetus in realizing the objectives and ideals of its Founding Fathers and to ensure security, peace and development of our region,’’ he said.
The statement said later in the capital city of Bissau, Buhari commissioned a road named in his honour.