Deji Elumoye in Abuja
As Nigeria heads to the polls in less than two months, President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his call to foreign diplomats in the country not to meddle in the nation’s local politics.
The president gave the warning on Thursday while receiving Letters of Credence from Ambassadors of Switzerland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of Thailand, the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of South Sudan at the State House, Abuja.
Buhari, according to a release issued by his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, asked the new foreign diplomats to keep their activities and concerns within the limits of their calling and the reasons for being sent to Nigeria.
His words: ‘‘I urge you to be guided by diplomatic practice to ensure that your activities remain within the limits of your profession as you monitor the build-up to the elections and the conduct of the general election itself.
‘‘I wish you all success in your respective tours of duty and at the same time encourage you to take time to enjoy the unique nature and culture at your disposal as you travel across our country.”
The president also told the envoys that Nigeria is working closely with ECOWAS to deal with insecurity in the West African region, as well as implementing strategies to contain the spate of unconstitutional changes in government within the region.
He called for cooperation and collaboration from the countries to overcome challenges in West Africa.
Buhari invited friendly countries to support Nigeria’s efforts to address the problem of insecurity, fight against corruption, diversification of the economy and efforts in promoting good governance.
The president told the ambassadors that Nigeria, no doubt, enjoys very cordial and mutually beneficial bilateral relations and cooperation with their respective countries, commending the roles of their predecessors who demonstrated diligence and commitment to advance these causes.
‘‘I am therefore confident that your appointments are obviously deliberate to build on the successes of your immediate predecessors in order to advance our relations to significant and enviable heights.
“As you settle down to your diplomatic responsibilities, I am hopeful that you will appreciate the political, socio-economic and cultural diversities which are the hallmarks of the Nigerian nation.
‘‘I encourage you to build friendships and take time to fraternise across the length and breadth of the country including interfacing with both the public and private sectors in bid to explore areas of mutual benefit to your respective countries and Nigeria.
‘‘Sectors such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, local manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, transportation, solid minerals are areas of particular interest to us and foreign investors alike.
‘‘This will enable us to collectively strive to resuscitate all our countries’ economies in the post pandemic global recovery processes,” he said.
Buhari also acknowledged the support of the respective countries in his government’s move to deal with the challenges of insecurity, such as kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, drugs and human trafficking, as well as the threats posed by environmental challenges, resulting from climate change in the Lake Chad region.
He stressed that different factors that accounted for these challenges go beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain.
The president emphasized that matters of security have become the business of all nations of the world to work together at both bilateral and multilateral platforms and build consensus in order to overcome these challenges.
The envoys, who presented their Letters of Credence, are: Nicolas Lang, Switzerland; Annika Hahn Englund, Sweden; Peter Ryan, Ireland; Kitiisak Klomchit, Thailand; Nicolas Nyouky, Senegal and David Chaot of South Sudan.
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the Ambassador of Switzerland assured the Nigerian President that they will exercise ‘‘their functions as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary with dedication, to the best of their knowledge and belief, and for the mutual benefit of our countries’’.
Wishing Nigeria peaceful, free and fair elections, the ambassadors extended their goodwill to the president on his remaining days in office.
‘‘We are keenly aware of the importance of Nigeria to the wellbeing of the entire African continent, its role in international politics and its weight in the world economy.
‘‘Each and everyone of us is proud to represent his or her country and its interests in this great Federal Republic of Nigeria,’’ Ambassador Lang stated.