BY SHRI K.R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, WHILE ACCEPTING
CREDENTIALS FROM MR. KABIRU AHMED, HIGH COMMISSIONER-DESIGNATE
OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA TO INDIA
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 13, 2000
It gives me great pleasure
to welcome you as the next High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria to India.
The friendship between
Nigeria and India is historic and time-tested. India recognises Nigeria's
leading role in Africa, a role which is but natural for Africa's most populous
country, which is so richly endowed with human and natural resources.
Democratic Nigeria is
even more well-equipped to be at the forefront of the unfolding African
renaissance. As the world's largest democracy, India salutes the return
of democracy to Nigeria. I also take this opportunity to convey my warmest
felicitations to His Excellency President Obasanjo for his pivotal and towering
role in making the transition to democracy in Nigeria. We are sure that
under his able stewardship, Nigeria will march forward on the path of political
stability and economic progress and further consolidate its position in
the international community.
We are greatly looking
forward to receiving President Obasanjo as the Chief Guest at the Republic
Day celebrations in New Delhi in January this year. It is only befitting
that on the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Republic of India,
and in the first year of the new millennium, our chief guest will hail from
a country and a continent to which we attach the highest importance.
Our bilateral relations
are based on strong foundations. We have struggled together in the fight
against colonialism and apartheid. We are among the earliest members of
the Non-aligned Movement. We may be separated in terms of distance, but
our people-to-people contacts have continued to increase. We are happy that
the twenty four thousand strong Indian community have found in Nigeria a
second home. It is also heartening to note that our cooperation, in the
civilian and defence fields, has continued to grow and diversify.
Today, Nigeria is India's
second largest trading partner in the African continent. This is a matter
of satisfaction. And yet, there is a far greater economic potential waiting
to be exploited for the mutual benefit of both our countries. Important
new areas of bilateral cooperation are opening up and must be fully pursued.
I am aware of the possibilities identified in the small-scale industry,
in rural electrification, rural telecommunication, in mining, railways,
the transport sector, the development of water resources and in the transfer
of technology, not only in industry, but also in agriculture. Human resource
development is another area where both countries can very fruitfully build
on the experience of the past. Given these possibilities, I am very happy
that the Indo-Nigerian Joint Commission is likely to meet very soon in Abuja.
Excellency, I am confident
that you will, during your tenure, contribute significantly towards the
expansion and diversification of our multi-faceted cooperation. In this
task, you will receive the fullest cooperation from my Government.
May I once again welcome
you and wish you a very happy and successful stay in India.