Nigeria National Day & twentieth year of Nigeria and Israel diplomatic relations

On the occasion of the 52nd Anniversary of the National Day of the Federal Republic of Nigeria while also commemorating the twentieth year of Nigeria and Israel resuming diplomatic relations, the embassy of Nigeria hosted an official reception on October 14th 2012 at the Residence of Nigeria in Tel-Aviv.

Ambassador David Oladipo Obasa and his wife Mrs. Olusola Olanrewaju Obasa welcomed HE Minister of Improvement of Government Services Mr. Michael Eitan, who assisted as an honorary guest. Also, among the select group of distinguished guests was the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Etoundi Essomba of Cameroun, Ambassadors, Head of the Diplomatic and Consular Missions, International Organizations and other select guests.

During his speech the Nigerian Ambassador David Oladipo Obasa gave a warm welcome to guests, particularly acknowledging the presence of Mr. Issachar Ben-Yaacov, former head of the Israeli Mission to Nigeria in 1973 when diplomatic relations between the two countries were suspended.

Ambassador Oladipo Obasa said it is gratifying to see the support shown by the International community towards Nigeria, especially in the last year, which has represented a major challenge for the African country. With the return of democratic rule in Nigeria uncovered aspirations from various religious groups and tribal sects have surfaced; nevertheless the country is strong to overcome destabilizing actors, he assured.

Regarding migration, Mr. David Oladipo Obasa reminded the audience that Nigerians in diaspora are of great value to their home country while also contributing to the development of communities they settle in. For that reason, the Ambassador remarked that the increasing intolerance against African immigrants is unfortunate and, if not addressed properly, could damage the capacity to carry healthy diplomatic relation with the Jewish State.

Lastly, Mr. David Oladipo Obasa  thanked the Embassy and the support of various Israeli friends in an amicable toast.

On the podium Minister of Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan, congratulated the people of Nigeria on their National Day on behalf of the Government and people of Israel. Principally, the minister congratulated Nigeria for its achievements through the years in strengthening democracy, advancing its economy and development goals as a leading country on the African continent.

Furthermore, the Israeli Minister regarded the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Israel as a milestone in the history of the friendly relations between the countries. “We are particularly delighted to note the ongoing dialogue between governments, as well as the mutual visits of delegations and top officials in recent years. Most notably, that of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2007 while he was vice-president, and that of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in 2009” said Mr. Eitan.

Minister Eitan detailed that for the past 20 years, Israel has witnessed the growing cooperation between the two countries in various fields, from infrastructure telecommunications and security to agriculture and education. Furthermore, over the years MASHAV- Israel Agency for International Development Cooperation- has trained hundreds of Nigerian participants in courses that are held in both countries. Additionally, the humanitarian projects, led by the Israeli embassy in Abuja serve as a bridge between peoples.

“Another important project is the establishment of the Israeli agricultural training center in the Plateau province. The center is now in its final stages of development, and Israeli agricultural experts will soon begin their work there” he added. The Minister argued that these projects are tangible evidence that Israel is committed to continue sharing with Nigeria its expertise and know-how.

Moreover, Israel and Nigeria share common interests and challenges, including the fight against religious radicalism and terrorism which threatens the stability of the region as a whole. The turmoil in North Africa and specially in Libya, explained Mr. Eitan,  has led to the increased activity of fanatical Islamic elements, a terrible threat for the Middle East and West Africa. Efforts such as active participation in sending soldiers and resources to international peacekeeping forces make Nigeria stand out as a peacemaker in Africa. Therefore, the many investments made by Nigeria, both domestically and in West Africa in uprooting terror deserve much respect and solidarity.

Finally, the Israeli Minister conveyed the best wishes of the government of Israel and the people of Israel to His Excellency the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, and to the people of Nigeria. “May the very good relations and friendship between the state of Israel and the Federal Republic of Nigeria continue to grow and flourish in the coming years” he toasted.

Published in: World of Diplomacy in Israel.

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