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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday in Abuja said Nigerians are not only multi-ethnic and multi-cultural but also enjoy “unfettered” freedom of speech and robust political discourse.
He said despite the heated political ramblings ahead of next year’s election, adding, “Nigerians are united in more ways than divided.
Buhari said this in a statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘We’ll continue to ensure freedom of speech, robust political discourse, says Buhari’, while receiving letters of credence from ambassadors and high commissioners of six countries at the State House, Abuja.
The statement read in part, “As you settle down to your diplomatic responsibilities, you will realise how diverse Nigeria is. We are not only multi-ethnic and religious but also multi-cultural. We enjoy unfettered freedom of speech and engage in robust political discourses. Sometimes, the nature of these discourses tends to give the impression that we are constantly opposed to each other.
“The reality is that there is so much that binds us together than the few areas of our divergence. I have no doubts in my mind that you will soon appreciate our uniqueness and indeed resilience as a people, as well as our diversity which constitutes our strength.”
The diplomats include Ambassadors and High Commissioners of the Republic of India, Mr Gangadharan Balasubramanian; Germany, Mrs Annett Gunther; Sudan, Mr Mohamed Abdelmannan; Democratic Republic of Congo, Mrs Gerengbo Pascaline; State of Palestine, Abdullah Shawesh; and The Kingdom of Netherlands, Mr Willem Plomp.
The President urged the diplomats to build on the existing good relations that their predecessors achieved by being more proactive in engagements.
“Today’s occasion, during which you have just presented your letters of credence to me, officially marks the formal assumption of your representational duties as Ambassadors/High Commissioners of your respective countries to Nigeria. You represent some of the most prominent countries on the earth and some of our important trading, political and cultural partners.
“The bilateral relationship between each of your countries and Nigeria is warm and very cordial, and the cooperation and collaboration between us in several areas, such as socio-economic, political, security, education and cultural spheres,’’ he said.
On behalf of the diplomats, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria assured the President of the full support of their countries, especially as Nigeria counts down to the 2023 elections, adding that they would work with his government and the leader that emerges after the elections.
Balasubramanian said all the ambassadors and high commissioners would work to consolidate existing good relations.