An assurance went out Monday from President Muhammadu Buhari to the newly inaugurated President of Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, who was in Nigeria on his first international visit: “We will stabilize our region for the benefit of the two countries.”
President Buhari said Nigerians and Nigeriens are people with similar culture, language and ways of life, “and we also share about 1,500 kilometres of land border, so we cannot ignore each other.”
The President congratulated Bazoum on winning the recent presidential election, and his successful inauguration into office.
“You have been in the system for a long time. The only thing is that you had never been President. Now you are one,” the host President said, assuring that Nigeria would assist its close neighbour in diverse ways as required.
On terrorism, as perpetrated by Boko Haram, President Buhari observed that Republic of Niger also suffers high casualties, vowing; “We will do all it takes to secure our two countries.”
President Buhari was thankful to the immediate past President, Mahamadou Issoufou, for what he calls “his understanding and sacrifices” to help stabilize the region, urging the successor to maintain the institutions his predecessor had established.
President Bazoum said he was delighted to make Nigeria his first port of call, noting that the two countries have common interests, “and, therefore, a good relationship is very important.
”On security, he observed that the fact that some Nigerians flee to Niger during terrorist attacks “shows that we need to cooperate, and we will face our challenges together.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the visiting Nigerien leader, who is on two-day official visit to Nigeria, was received by President Buhari at the forecourt of the villa at about 1.22p.m.
Among those who joined the president to welcome Bazoum are the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello and some presidential aides.
The governors of Sokoto, Borno, Yobe, Kebbi and Zamfara states were also at the villa to welcome Bazoum, who was sworn in for the first five-year term as President of Niger Republic on April 2.
Bazoum’s inauguration marked the first successful transfer of power from outgoing president to an elected Nigerien leader since the country’s independence in 1960.
NAN reports that the two West African leaders went into closed doors bilateral talks immediately after the brief welcoming ceremony.
NAN gathered that Bazoum, 61, would also be hosted to a private breaking of fast by President Buhari at about 6.50p.m
President Buhari had earlier received briefing from Vice-President Osinbajo shortly before the arrival of the Nigerien President.
The Nigerian leader had on Thursday returned to Abuja after 16-day medical check-up in the United Kingdom.
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