President Muhammadu Buhari has been awarded the highest national award of Niger Republic, Grand Croix Des Ordre National Du Niger, by outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou.
President Buhari, while speaking, congratulated outgoing President Issoufou, for the successful completion of his second tenure, and winning the prestigious 2020 Mo Ibrahim prize for Achievement in African Leadership, describing him as a worthy African leader.
The President in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, felicitated with the outgoing leader for upholding the tenets of democracy, improving the economy of his country and consolidating the good relations that existed between both countries.
President Buhari, who said his first visit after swearing-in in 2015 was to the Niger Republic, noted that the choice of a neighbouring country underscored the value and quality of relations between both countries.
“Nigeria-Niger relations are based on a long common border and shared cultural and historical roots.
“Relations between the two countries have, over the years, been very cordial and fraternal. There is a spirit of good neighbourliness between us.
“Nigeria’s borders with Niger have always been largely peaceful. There have been no serious border conflicts between the two countries.
“Each country has based its diplomatic relations upon non-interference in the internal affairs of the other.
“It is therefore gratifying to state that Niger has remained one of the most trusted and reliable neighbours of Nigeria,” the President added.
President Buhari said the cultural similarity between both countries, which include common languages such as Hausa, Kanuri and Fulfude and a common border of 1500 kilometres, further strengthened good relations, adding that Nigeria and Niger “refused to be divided and alienated by the artificial borders imposed by the former colonial powers.’’
He said the emergence of President Issoufou in 2011 marked a watershed in the relationship between the two countries as the frontier of cooperation expanded and mutual trust further strengthened, while congratulating the President-elect, Mohamed Bazoum, for winning the elections.
President Buhari urged the President-elect of Niger to build on the achievements of his predecessor in office.
In his remarks, President Issoufou thanked President Buhari and all Nigerians for the support he received as leader of his country for ten years, particularly during his time as Chairman of ECOWAS, describing Nigeria as a “second home’’.
The Nigerien President said the highest national award of his country was bestowed on President Buhari because of his “fraternity, vigour, patriotism and determination to move Africa forward, starting from the West Coast.’’
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Nigerien President distinguished himself in leadership at both national and regional levels, leaving a legacy of avoiding the trap of altering the constitution to prolong his stay in office.