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Nigeria is Committed to Gambia's Manpower Needs

Oct 6, 2008, 7:04 AM

Being the full text of the speech delivered by the Nigeria High Commissioner to The Gambia Her Excellency (Mrs) Esther John Audu on the occasion of the 48thIndependence Anniversary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Jerma Beach Hotel on Wednesday, October 1st2008

Today marks the 48thIndependence Anniversary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the second Independence Anniversary celebration of the present administration of His Excellency President (Alhaji) Umaru Musa Yar'Adua GCFR.

On behalf of the Nigerian government and the entire staff of the Nigeria High Commission, I feel most honoured to address you, and wish to warmly welcome you to this year's celebration. I am also honoured to convey to Mr President His Excellency (Alhagie) Dr Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, the people and Government of the Republic of The Gambia, the fraternal greetings of His Excellency President (Alhaji) Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (GCFR), the people and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This year's anniversary marks my first Independence Anniversary celebration in the country as Nigeria's principal envoy to The Gambia. As you may recall, I arrived in The Gambia on 19thApril 2008 to assume duty as Nigeria's High Commissioner.

Nigeria attained independence from Great Britain on 1stOctober 1960 with His Excellency Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe as President and Alhaji (Sir) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister. In 1963, Nigeria attained The Republican status. Between 1960 and 2008, Nigeria has faced several challenges, some of which even threatened our very existence as a nation.

Today, Nigeria is forty-eight years old as a nation, enjoying good diplomatic relations with many countries around the globe. Forty-eight years is no doubt like a drop in the ocean.

As for Nigeria and The Gambia, the two countries have enjoyed and maintained cordial diplomatic relations since independence. I am also delighted to state that our bilateral cooperation has been strong in the areas of manpower exchange, youth development and training particularly in the fields of education, health, culture, defence and security.

At the corporate level, there are about five Nigerian banks currently operating in The Gambia. In the insurance industry, Nigeria is also not left out. As we speak, Nigeria holds 35.5 percent stake in the West African Insurance Institute (WAII), which is a sub regional outfit set up by the five English-speaking countries.

Similarly, private individuals and entities are also contributing their quotas towards the socio-economic development of The Gambia through businesses such as motor spare parts, computer centres, home video shops, stationery stores, restaurants and barbing/hair dressing salons.

At the international level, Nigeria and The Gambia are both members of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), the Commonwealth of Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The two nations served creditably in Liberia and Sierra Leone to restore peace and constitutional governments, and are currently serving in Darfur and other UN Peacekeeping Missions around the world.

I wish to assure our host of the Mission's continuous commitment towards strengthening our existing bilateral relations as well as fostering cooperation in the area of agriculture to ensure food sufficiency. Nigeria will continue to support The Gambia with manpower in the areas of need.

This year's celebration is going to be low key to enable us to reflect on the happenings at home and the international scene such as global food and energy crisis. It is also an opportunity for us to see how we can collectively join hands together to promote our democracy, economy and the well being of our people.

I wish you all happy Eid-el-Fitr (Barka da Sallah) and a wonderful 48thIndependence Anniversary celebration. May God Almighty protect us from all kinds of evil intentions towards our nations.

Please permit me to thank those corporate bodies that have made contributions financially and otherwise towards making this occasion a memorable one. Our gratitude goes to Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, Bank PHB, First International Bank, Oceanic Bank, Bellview Airlines, GRTS, West Coast Radio, Unique FM, Daily Express, The Point, Daily Observer, and Today newspapers, as well as the Nigerian Community in The Gambia. To the staff of the Nigeria High Commission, who have worked tirelessly for this day I say a big thank you to you all! You have been wonderful.

Once again, I thank you all for honouring our invitation. Please enjoy yourself with Nigerian rich cultural heritage and cuisine.