Last week, the diplomatic atmosphere in Abuja was saturated with the visit of two ‘powerful’ women in global politics. CALEB ONWE reports
The British Prime Minister, Theresa May and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor share a common affinity as two women who call the shots in the United Kingdom and Germany respectively.
The visit of these two influential women to Nigeria, same week, may be coincidental, but could be seen as a diplomatic invasion of Abuja by European powers. While these high profile visitors came separately and for different reasons, their visits to a large extent showed that Nigeria still remained a rallying point to world powers in spite of her wobbly democratic credentials.
The two women, who were guests of President Muhammadu Buhari also became special guests in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. In the course of their visit, they were conferred with an honorary citizenship of Abuja, a special diplomatic status that places them in positions to enjoy certain rights and privileges to the extent that the laws of the land permit.
In separate ceremonies, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, presented symbolic keys to the visiting world leaders.
The British Prime Minister received the key to the City of Abuja shortly after she alighted from the British Royal Air force Boeing 788 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Making the presentation, the FCT Minister told May that the people and government of Nigeria had always had esteemed regards for Britain’s contribution to the development of democracy in the country.
Unlike the British PM, who arrived and was received in the early hours of the day, the German Chancellor’s Republic of Deutschland Boeing 733, touched the ground of the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport at about 21:24pm local time. Despite the fact that her arrival was late, Nigerian cultural troupe braved the late night cold to welcome the ‘ August’ visitor with a superlative cultural display of songs and dances.
Merkel, who was delighted seeing the dancing maidens, after receiving a bouquets of flower, went straight to have a handshake with the excited dancers. The FCT Minister, who was supported by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Khadija Ibrahim, presented to the German Chancellor a golden key which conferred on her the honorary citizenship of Abuja.
The FCT Minister disclosed that the honour was being bestowed on the visitor on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, in recognition of Germany’s support to Nigeria’s democracy and economic development.
Inside Abuja gathered from the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Bernhard Schlagheck Botschafter, that the visit was “about promoting trade and investment as well as improving bilateral re- lations for the common benefit of the two countries.
He however noted that issues of migration, which Chancellor Merkel was already dealing with in her domestic policy would also be part of the discourse. “The main other issue is to promote trade and investment in both directions. There are indeed very prominent examples of German engagements here in Nigeria.
Of course, we are open to Nigeria export trade to Germany. So, it is a two-way trade. “Migration is an issue, one among all others. As you know, there is some domestic unease with regards to immigration but that has been dealt with on the domestic level. The Chancellor would also address the issue of how to improve our bilateral interaction and relationship.”
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