President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja said Nigeria’s democracy is steadily improving with a deeper understanding of the culture and tenets among the people, and strengthening of the institutions that guarantee free and fair elections.
Receiving Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency Rt. Hon. Julie Payette, at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said he saw the evolving strength of democracy in the country by contesting for elections three times before winning at the fourth trial in 2015.
The President, in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Femi Adesina, told the Governor General that Nigeria had been learning from the mistakes of those who practised democracy for a longer period and by looking inward at its own peculiarities.
“I emphasize free and fair elections at all times,’’ he said.
The President said the bilateral relations with Canada will continue to be improved considering the huge interest of the country in Nigeria and growing economic ties, with many Nigerians schooling and working in the country.
He said Canada played a brotherly role in helping displaced persons in the North East, following Boko Haram insurgency.
In her remarks, the Governor General said Nigeria and Canada enjoy a warm and strong partnership that has translated into ease of migration, large trade relations and cultural exchanges.
Rt. Hon. Payette, who is an astronaut, said it was important for nations to pool resources together to start exploring the benefits of space in providing solutions to some problems on earth.
The Governor General noted that the world would achieve more by de-emphasizing geographical differences and refocusing its energy on the commonality of humanity, pointing out that from space one can only see an earth without borders.
Rt. Hon. Payette said her visit was about showcasing “youth, innovation and technology’’, adding that Canada would like to partner with Nigeria in the ongoing diversification of the economy.
“We wish you free and credible elections in 2019,’’ she said.
Speaking with journalists at the end of the meeting, she disclosed that the two countries have resolved to deepen bilateral relation in the areas of Trade and Commerce, education, security, Science and space technology advancement.
Payette, who is accompanied on the visit by eminent Canadians including government officials, members of parliament and members of the business sector, noted that Nigeria and Canada had been friends and partners for decades
Describing Nigeria as the largest trading partner in Africa and largest investor in Canada, she said Canada had a strong base in Nigeria as the number of companies doing business in the country had grown significantly in recent years.
She said “Many opportunities exist for deepening cooperation as you mentioned to me during our conversation there is a lot of room for growth for the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Canada.
“Fortunately, we already have a strong base and we will continue to build on this.
“Nigeria is Canada’s largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and as well Nigeria is the largest investor from Africa in Canada.
“The number of Canadian companies doing business here, has grown significantly in recent years and we really hope that this delegation would foster even more trading and commerce between our two countries,’’ she said.
Payette said that, at the height of the Nigeria – Canada relationship, more than 10,000 Nigerian students were studying in Canada.
She further revealed that another set of over 5,000 Nigerians residing in Canada had been contributing positively to the growth of the Canadian textile industry.
She said that one of the priorities of her visit to Nigeria was to meet and celebrate the vibrant youths of the country.
Payette said the visit would also focus attention on the National Space Research and Development Agency in Abuja.