By Ismaila Chafe, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria is working closely with ECOWAS to deal with insecurity in the West African region, while implementing strategies to contain the spate of unconstitutional changes in government.
The president spoke 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 in Abuja on Thursday.
He called for cooperation and collaboration from the countries to overcome challenges in West Africa.
Buhari invited friendly countries to ‘‘support efforts to address the problem of insecurity, fight against corruption, diversification of the economy, and our efforts in promoting good governance.’’
The president renewed his call to foreign government representatives not to meddle in Nigeria’s internal affairs, as Nigerians prepared to elect a new government at the general elections on Feb. 25, 2023.
‘‘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 elections 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,’’ he said.
Buhari told the ambassadors that Nigeria, no doubt, enjoyed 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 a 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.
The president also acknowledged the support of the respective countries in his administration’s campaign 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.
Buhari reiterated that different factors that accounted for these challenges were beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain.
He emphasised that matters of security had become the business of all nations of the world to work together, at both bilateral and multilateral platforms, to build consensus so as to overcome these challenges.
The envoys who presented their Letters of Credence are Nicolas Lang of Switzerland; Annika Hahn Englund of Sweden; Peter Ryan of Ireland; Kitiisak Klomchit of Thailand, Nicolas Nyouky of Senegal and David Chaot of South Sudan.
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the Ambassador of Switzerland assured the Nigerian president that they would 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.’’
While 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 every one of us is proud to represent his or her country and its interests in this great Federal Republic of Nigeria,’’ Lang added.