Friday, November 15, 2013

Nigerian president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan visit to The Gambia

  • Calls for strong intra-Africa trade for economic growth

  • Goodluck Jonathan promises to bring Boko Haram down 

  • Jonathan, Jammeh call for support of transitional process in Guinea Bissau  

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan and his Gambian counterpart, President Yahya Jammeh, on Saturday, in Banjul, insisted on Africa’s demand for the urgent reformation of the United Nations (Photo Credit: Nigerian Tribune)
In front of a cheering crowd, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan officially opened the new Nigerian High Commission office along Bertilharding Highway in the Kanifing Municipality, as part of his two-day visit to Banjul.

Jonathan used the event to call for strong intra-Africa trade and free movement of goods for economic growth of the continent.

“Free movement of goods within the continent will help to boost the economic growth of the continent,” the Nigerian leader said.

Sworn in as Nigeria’s President in 2010, Jonathan who was on his first state visit to The Gambia, express confidence that the bilateral cooperation and trade between the two nations should double.

He arrived in Banjul on Friday evening and departs on Saturday afternoon. His visit was meant to boost the two countries already existing ties.

The Gambia and West Africa economic powerhouse inked Technical Assistant cooperation pacts in Agriculture, Health, and Education for decades, in what is seen as a "west meets west" the ink also improve a strong existing bilateral ties between the two  West African countries.

An estimated 30, 000 Nigerians live in The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa.
According to Jonathan, free movement of goods in West Africa is on a discussion table and soon that will address to ensure that goods travel freely from one West African country to another.

Passports and voting rights

Mr Jonathan promised that the troubles that Nigerians encounter while trying to access national documents abroad will be a thing of the past. “We have given mandates to the embassies to issue passports to Nigerian citizens in the diaspora,” he said.

He said for Nigerians in diaspora to vote in Nigeria’s elections is not allowed by the National Assembly. But I think that it will be considered, says Jonathan who was not too sure.

“The National Assembly of Nigeria doesn’t allow for the Nigerians in diaspora to vote, but I think we will now consider that although I am not too sure, but may be they will,” he said. 

Book Haram

Speaking of the Boko Haram sect which has climed responsibility for some of the bombings, gun attacks and kidnappings in the Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, Jonathan said although Nigeria is facing several challenges they are working to ensure that the group is defeated.

“Nigeria is facing lot of challenges specially Boko Haram but we are doing well, in fact we have cleared some of their hideouts in the north, and also we are working on strong security to defeat them,” the Nigerian leader said.

Boko Haram which is loosely translated in Hausa as "Western education is sinful" is an Islamic jihadist militant organization based in the northeast of Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger.

Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2001, the organization seeks to establish a "pure" Islamic state ruled by sharia law, putting a stop to what it deems "Westernization.” The group is known for attacking Christians and government targets, bombing churches, attacking schools and police stations, but has also assassinated members of the Islamic establishment.

Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2001 and 2013 and roughly 3,600 killed, including 1,600 civilians between 2009 and 2013


Nigeria’s High Commissioner to The Gambia, Her Excellency madam John Esther Audu, described inauguration of the High Commission as a significant development for the development of both countries, Nigeria and The Gambia.

“The two countries are brothers and the bilateral relation between Nigeria and The Gambia will continue to bear more fruits,” she said.

She explained that the first face of the construction was started in 2008 and finally completed in 2013. Commissioning it today is a great achievement to us which came through the visionary leader of The Gambia His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alh. Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh, Audu said.

She thanked the Gambian leader for acquiring them a plot to build the Embassy office, and for the warm welcome he accorded to Nigerians in The Gambia. “It is a home away home without any problem,” the Nigerian diplomatic representative added.

Jonathan was accompanied by a delegation of high ranking government officials and influential businesspersons, who left the country for Abuja on Saturday November 9, 2013.

  • Jonathan, Jammeh call for support of transitional process in Guinea Bissau

President Goodlick Ebele Jonathan and his Gambia counterpart President Yahya AJJ Jammeh have called on the international community to support the transition process in Guinea-Bissau in accordance with the pertinent decisions adopted by ECOWAS, AU and the UN.

In a communiqué signed between Nigeria and The Gambia at the end of Jonathan’s November 8-9 state visit to Banjul, the two leaders recognised Guinea Bissau for its “remarkable progress” in the transition process due to the political consensus reached by local stakeholders compared to the past years.

In recent months, Guinea Bissau has adopted better manual voter registration system for the country’s next election.

Known for being one of West Africa’s most unstable countries, Guinea Bissau is on the speedy road to have a smooth, fair, peaceful and free election. The country has elected the National Electoral Commission’s President, revised the electoral code and established the National Commission for Planning and Strategic Coordination.

The transition period is scheduled to end by December 2013. In view of this, the African Union Commission, AUC Chairperson, has advocated for the urgent financial support and all other necessary aid from the African Union and international partners in order to enable the country hold fair, free, credible and transparent elections.

Stimulate regional integration

Nigeria and The Gambia have also underlined the necessity to further stimulate regional integration by promoting trade and economic activities between the two countries - given the political and socio-economic development in the sub-region within the context of the world economic and financial crisis. 

They have called for the acceleration of the programme of integration in Africa through re-invigoration, realization and harmonization of the regional economic communities.

Saturday’s communiqués enhances the historical and diverse relations between the two countries and reviewed their bilateral relations to be further strengthened in the mutual interest of the people of the sister countries.

In their joint communiqué the two presidents dilated on energy, Justice, health, maritime transport, education, air transport and combating illicit trafficking for the development of the two West African nations.

They also renewed their commitment to encourage trade between the two countries based on the various ECOWAS Protocols, and to re-energize their joint commission, diversify and strengthen their cooperation in all sectors by maintaining frequent contact and consultation, as well as pursue the coordination of their actions and cooperation at the regional and international levels.

The two leaders reaffirmed the need to develop cooperation in the area of higher education and research, indicating that economic growth, employment and harmonious integration of youths can be achieved by giving priority to education and capacity building.

Both leaders pointed out the need to reinforce cooperation in investment promotion and development  of small and medium enterprises, convinced that food security .energy, and climate change  are closely  linked which allows  for poverty reduction  and guarantee for sustainable development  to constitute a major  preoccupation for their respective countries.

For the peace and understanding in the both countries, the two heads of state expressed satisfaction with the prevailing situation and renewed their commitment to mobilize resources and energize for well being of the people of the two countries.

Presidents Jammeh and Jonathan also described the integration of Gambian and Nigerian communities as exemplary and commended the quality of their reciprocal relations with administrative authorities in each country.

Lasting peace in the Middle East 

On the Arab world, the two presidents called on major players to bring lasting peace and solution to the crisis in Egypt and Syria. They pledged their support for the plan of resolution of the crisis as recommended by the UN and Arab League. 

Jonathan and Jammeh also lauded the efforts of the UN weapons inspectors in dismantling Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons. And therefore asked all sectors in Syria to work towards a just and sustainable political solution to ensure realization of legitimate aspirations of Syrians in the name of sovereignty, territorial integrity and social cohesion.

Both Presidents Jammeh and Jonathan shared the conviction that Africa should be equitably represented in world governance through a better representation in the UN Security Council and agencies.

  • Goodluck Jonathan promises to bring Boko Haram down

 “My government is working hard to bring the self proclaim Jihadist group Boko Haram down,” Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said in Banjul on Saturday as he open the new High Nigerian High Commission at Kanifing.
My government is well aware that Boko Haram is well armed but despite that we are still confident that if the state security is given the needed support they can bring Boko Haram down, he said on 9 November, 2013.   

“We have now get to know that Boko Haram is strongly arm and that we were underrating them before, but take it from me my government is determine to do all it take to defeat the terrorist group and eradicate radicalism in Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Jonathan had declared a state of emergency in three states in northern Nigeria to fight the militant group which has claimed responsibility for bombings, kidnappings and gun attacks on schools, security posts and barracks, churches and mosques. 

Every Nigerian in and outside of the country is worried of the threat posed by Boko Haram, Jonathan said during a 24-hour official state visit to Banjul. 
He accused the late Libyan leader Maumar Gaddafi of supplying weapons to most of the African Jihadist groups whom he said are using those weapons to stabilized countries like Nigeria.  

“They have (Boko Haram) powerful weapons at their disposal that are capable of bringing down airplanes. So for that been the case, we need to prepare well to overpower them,” he said.   
Good ambassadors 

The Nigerian president urges his fellow country people living in The Gambia to serve as good ambassadors of their country. 

Unlike in South Africa, Nigerians in The Gambia are encountering limited crime rate, said Jonathan, applauding the High Commissioner (Esther John Audu).  

He thank the professionals whom he said are bringing quality Education to the doorstep of all the Nigerians Youths residing in The Gambia maintaining that Educations is key to the development of a nations. 

Jonathan said he is working extremely hard to drastically reduce unemployment in Nigeria. 

“Security is our concern and if we want to reduce the crime rate we should create jobs for the youths,” he said.

Nigerians have complained to their president high tax charges in The Gambia, but Jonathan said the West African community (ECOWAS) is working rapidly on this issue. We will soon come to a conclusion regarding the issue especially on the movement of goods and commodities, he said. 

  • Source: The Voice Newspaper, Serekunda, The Gambia 

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