Saturday, November 4, 2017 12:39 pm
The newly appointed Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, is His Excellency (Dr.) Habiss Ibrahim Ugbada, He assumes duty at an auspicious time when Nigeria/Sierra Leone Joint Commission, a veritable platform that promotes bilateral relations between these sister nations of West Africa is moribund.
He revealed that he has commenced diplomatic processes for the 3rd Nigeria/Sierra Leone Joint Commission, which now should be hosted by Nigeria. In this interview with ABUBAKAR HASHIM, the Nigerian Envoy speaks on other issues
As the new High Commissioner, what is your vision in promoting the cordial relationship between the two countries?
In tandem with my Principal’s, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who has conveyed his vision via his special message to President Ernest BaiKoroma, I aim to build on the solid foundation cemented by our nations’ cordial bilateral relations, which transcends our independence, by taking it to higher heights. I see our two nations and people existing as one on every matter of bilateral and multilateral significance to our nations’ developmental quests. After all, we already share cultural affinities!
What are your views on the existing Nigeria/Sierra Leone Joint Commission?
When I assumed Office this September, I sought briefing, in utmost recognition of the developmental demands of our two nations. I was told of this veritable socio economic and political dais, Nigeria/Sierra Leone Joint Commission. I am therefore resolved to utilize the platform to engender our trade, educational and socio cultural development. The inaugural Session held in Lagos from 5-7 June, 1990 and the 3rd Session, now Nigeria’s turn to host: is long overdue. I am aware the 2014 unfortunate visitation of Ebola Virus Disease to our nations is responsible for its partial delay. Hopefully, through our two Foreign Ministries, it will soon hold to foster furtherour economic and technical cooperation inareas like Agriculture, Education, Health, Security and even Sports.
Nigeria and Sierra Leone had a long history particularly in the Educational sector. As a seasoned educationist, what role will you strive to enhance this sector?
Education remains a very significant key to any nation’s growth or sustained growth. I intend through Nigeria Technical Aid Corp (TAC) to help. I am aware that my Nigeria/Sierra Leone signed TAC agreements in September, 2009 as a critical tool for manpower development. This kick-started with 130 Volunteers most in the educational sector of host country. It must be pointed out that, TAC lends technical support based on ‘needs’; I intend to work with concerned sectors to harmonize need and use all available personal and official tools to expedite actualization . My role shall therefore be a facilitator. I use this interview to appeal to all concerned, let’s work together for the greater good of our youths by educating them as future leaders.
Presently, TAC Volunteers on ground arein the Health sector. They comprise5 Doctors and 10 Nurses. Meanwhile Host have been accordedCVs of quality professionals in various fields for consideration forwarded by Directorate of Technical Aid Corps (DTAC), Abuja; whose Team visited Freetown in September, 2017 to acquaint themselves with the welfare of the Volunteers and improve services accordingly. Nigeria is indeed desirous of helping Sierra Leone in any way needed; this she has proven overtime and the educational sector would not be an exception.
You came in at a time your predecessor Ambassador Quist-Adebiyi had laid a sound foundation in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. She re-branded Nigeria’s image. How do you intend to continue on this footprint?
The Nigerian Foreign Service strives on precedence and continuity. I intend to continue where Her Excellency stopped. Already,Nigeria Government June, 2017 assented Bill on Nigeria In Diaspora Organization (NIDO) law has eased my work. This unifying umbrella body will be used as a platform to engender mutual coexistence between our peoples. As earlier stated, I do not see two nations but one people from the continent of Africa.
We are by our traditional culture our brother’s keepers. Geographical locations are expedient but our peoples are the same under one God. Nigerians are law abiding people. We have about 15million of Nigerians in the Diaspora and they are widely acclaimed as ‘most educated immigrant group’. Nigerians in Salonetherefore would be enthused to respect the law of our sister nation. None the less, where there is no offence there can be no crime;we shall thus take a pro-active stance on preventing Nigerians’ involvement in any form of illegality in Sierra Leone. Conclusively, I foresee a robust Nigeria/Lierra Leone Relations.