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‘We’ll continue to assist our close neighbours’ – Buhari to Nigerien President

NEWSMAN, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has assured his Republic of Niger counterpart, Mohamed Bazoum, of Nigeria’s commitment to assist its close neighbours in diverse ways as required.

President Buhari said the citizens of both countries share similar cultures, languages and ways of life, with about 1,500 kilometres of land border that could not be ignored by the people, and assured Bazoum that Nigeria would continue to do all it could to stabilise the West African sub-region.

“We will stabilise our region for the benefit of the two countries. 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,” Buhari said.

President Buhari’s spokesperson, in a statement in Abuja, said Buhari gave the assurance when he hosted the newly inaugurated President of Republic of Niger, who was in Nigeria on his first international visit.

While congratulating the Nigerien leader on his successful election and inauguration, Buhari observed: “You have been in the system for a long time. The only thing is that you had never been President. Now you are one.”

On terrorism, the Nigerian leader reminded his visitor that his country also suffers high casualties, vowing: “We will do all it takes to secure our two countries.”

Appreciating the immediate past President Mahamadou Issoufou for what he called “his understanding and sacrifices” to stabilise the region, the President urged the successor to maintain the institutions his predecessor established.

Bazoum said he was delighted to make Nigeria his first port of call, pointing out that the two countries had common interests, “and, therefore, a good relationship is very important.”

He added that for the fact that some Nigerians flee to Niger during terrorist attacks “shows that we need to cooperate, and we will face our challenges together.”

President Bazoum was accompanied on the trip by governors of some northern states which share boundaries with his country.

They included Governors Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Abdulahi Ganduje (Kano), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara).

The meeting also had the National Security Adviser, (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd).

Bazoum’s inauguration on April 2 this year marked the West African nation’s first transfer of power from one democratically elected leader to another having won the December 27, 2020 poll.

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