Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari has advised High Commissioners of the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka to always uphold the noble standards of diplomacy, like their predecessors, by respecting the traditional institutions in the country.
The President, who received Letters of Credence from the United Kingdom High Commissioner, Richard Hugh Montgomery
and his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, Velupillai Kananathan at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, noted that relations with both countries will be further consolidated, with their consideration for local culture, traditional rulers, and institutions.
“I like the way our traditional rulers and institutions are being respected, in spite of the changing times, education, and rising materialism.
“There is a lot to learn from our culture, and the traditional institutions are the custodians, and they should be respected by all,’’ President Buhari told the two envoys in separate meetings.
The President told the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom that the diplomatic relations, spanning many years, had been sustained on mutual respect for cultures, assuring that all courtesies will be extended to him to make his stay in Nigeria memorable.
According to him, the cultural exchange, through education and training, with Britain had been on for many years, recalling that he had military training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England, from 1962 to 1963, and Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, United Kingdom, 1964.
The President told the British diplomat that a good understanding of cultural differences, and respect for institutions paved the way for most of the successes of the United Kingdom, noting that previous diplomats had established relations with the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Shehu of Borno, and Emir of Ilorin, the ancient gateway to the North.
He said: “In one of my meetings with King Charles III, he asked me an interesting question if I had a house in England, and I replied that I don’t have a house, not an inch, anywhere outside Nigeria”.
The President told the Sri Lankan diplomat that the participation of women in politics and governance in Nigeria had steadily increased over the years while referring to the first female Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
“Recently, we got close to having the first female governor in Nigeria,’’ he added.
In his remarks, Montgomery said the United Kingdom had always held Nigeria and its cultural institutions in high esteem, while relating the best wishes of King Charles III, as Nigeria prepares for the handover ceremony on May 29th.
He noted that the monarchy had been an integral part of the British system, and it had remained a major attraction and source of honour.
According to him: “We have had a long, productive dialogue over security, economic partnership, home affairs, and other issues”.
On his part, the Sri Lankan envoy told the President that the country continues to share its skills and experience with the Nigerian military in tackling insurgency.
Kananathan assured that he will consolidate the efforts of his predecessor, by strengthening relations on energy projects, which had already started in East Africa.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja