President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, urged the citizens of the Guinea-Bissau to ensure free and fair electoral processes in their country.
This was as he reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to work with the West African country to sustain and strengthen democracy and good governance in the sub-region and the entire continent.
‘‘You should always ensure that the electoral process is conducted in free and fair conditions,” the President said during a one-day State Visit to the embattled West African state country where he was conferred with the country’s highest national honour; the Amilcar Cabral Award and the naming of a major street after him in Bissau, the capital city.
This is according to a statement signed late Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled President Buhari vows the defence of democracy in Africa.
While offering words of encouragement to Bissau-Guineans for standing with the democratically chosen administration of President Umaro Embaló against threats by undemocratic forces, he encouraged them to support the entrenchment of democratic values in their country.
You should always ensure that the electoral process is conducted in free and fair conditions.
The President also welcomed the conferment of the country’s highest national honour, the Amilcar Cabral Award upon him and the naming of a major street in Bissau, the capital city, after him.
In the course of this one-day official visit to Bissau today, we had an opportunity to review the state of our bilateral relations, and to share concerns on the challenges facing us in the region.
I very much appreciate the naming of two roads in my honour, as well as being conferred with the highest honour of Guinea Bissau.
I am personally grateful to you, your government and the people of this fine country. I believe all of these were possible because of the persevering stand of Nigeria in ensuring that Guinea Bissau remains on the side of democratic governance.
He said Nigeria’s strong stand through the Economic Community of West African States, in insisting on the full implementation of the Conakry Peace Agreement by imposing sanctions on 19 individuals who impeded the implementation of the Conakry Agreement helped to restore peace that now prevails in Guinea Bissau.
Guinea Bissau and Nigeria have come a long way. Our cordial relations date back to Guinea Bissau’s liberation struggle from Portugal when Nigeria supported the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde.
Nigeria has on its own, as well as through ECOWAS, intervened at critical periods in the life of this country, making immense direct contributions as well as supporting international efforts on the peace process in Guinea Bissau. This fact has further reinforced our relations, enhanced understanding and trust between our two countries.
He then congratulated the people of Guinea Bissau for rallying around Abhay, a name he fondly calls President Embalo.
The President assured Embalo of the continued disposition of Nigeria towards reinforcing cooperation with Guinea Bissau both at bilateral and multilateral levels.
On his part, the President of Guinea-Bissau praised Nigeria for always standing with them in their 20 years of instability.
You have assisted us with our elections. You have assisted in stabilising Guinea Bissau. I assure that your support for democracy in this country and the entire sub-region is much appreciated by the people, who as you have seen trooped to greet you.
Embalo assured Buhari that he would follow in his footsteps in ensuring free and fair elections in his country and leaving on time when his tenure ended.
He also thanked the President for assisting the country with 70 doctors who performed the dual duties of training the Guineans and performing surgeries in the country without their citizens having to travel to Portugal.
On the “Amilcar Cabral Award” conferred on the President and the major street named as Muhammadu Buhari Boulevard, President Embalo said the two events reflected the most solemn moment of the country and a recognition of the stabilising the role President Buhari was playing in the life of his country, as well as his defence of democracy and its values throughout the sub-region.