It was amid pomp and pageantry that the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Italian Republic, His Excellency, Mfawa Omini Abam led Excellences, Representatives of the Italian Government, Dean and Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of the Press, Friends of Nigeria, Fellow Compatriots and other distinguished guests to celebrate the 61st Independence Anniversary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Rome, Italy.
The epoch-making event which took place on 2nd October 2021 attracted Nigerians and Italians, as well as the Minister International Organization, Mrs Yvonne Odumah of the Embassy of Nigeria, Rome.
Ambassador Mfawa Omini Abam thanked the distinguished guests most profoundly on behalf of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the good people of Nigeria for honouring them with their esteemed presence at the occasion to mark the 61st independence anniversary of Nigeria.
According to Ambassador Mfawa Omini Abam, it is an occasion to celebrate the wisdom, foresight, courage and sacrifice of Nigeria’s founding fathers who led the country to independence in 1960 and the collective effort of these post-independence leaders who have succeeded them in the task of nation-building.
His Excellency Omini Abam noted that in this task, it would be uncharitable not to acknowledge the invisible hand of God in using these great patriots to put together, as a starting point, a people and land with such diversity. “We also acknowledge that, compared to the experience elsewhere in Africa, Nigerian Independence was won as it were, on a platter of gold-basically because of the collective resolve of the peoples, and the fact that dialogue, rather than force of arms was embraced. It is also a milestone whereupon to reflect and review her progress on the journey to economic and social transformation”, Ambassador Mfawa Omini Abam further stated.
The Diplomat also recalled that last year, a celebration of this nature was not thought possible due to the challenge posed by the novel COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effects on the entire globe. “Our resilience as humans was tested, but we happily came out stronger. Even though there is still a lot of ground to be covered, we must not lose sight of the achievements recorded. Our collective swift response and implementation of prudent preventive measures helped save lives. I use this opportunity to pay glowing tributes to all those who lost their lives to the pandemic – may their souls rest in peace”, he further emphasized.
The distinguished Ambassador to the Italian Republic said Nigeria stands as the largest democracy in Africa, stating that Nigeria’s democratic experiment after long years of military rule, spans over two decades. Thus, this journey is definitely not without challenges, but that they painstakingly worked to improve on the experience through respect of human rights, upholding the rule of law as well as democratic tenets and principles.
He stressed that most importantly, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has made it a sacred duty to ensure that elections are not only transparent but also free, fair and in conformity with international best practices. He, therefore, acknowledged the support of their Excellences and respective Governments and urged them to do more as Nigeria continue to strive to build a perfect Republic.
In the same vein, he said “Nigeria has been an active player in the maintenance of global peace and security, both in terms of human and material resources, and is committed to do more in ensuring that the world is free from dangers of terrorism, human trafficking, wars and other existential threats to humanity. “Our fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group is yielding significant success and we will not relent until the hydra-headed monster is eradicated from our land. Here, I call for continued collaboration by our various governments in the fight against terrorism”, he further stated.
In terms of economic development, the Diplomat revealed that Nigeria remains the biggest economy in Africa, as deliberate steps were taken by the current administration to encourage and attract Foreign Direct Investment for purpose of transforming and revamping key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, telecommunication, oil and gas, solid minerals, education, health, tourism amongst others, with the aim of raising the standard of living of the people. ”Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria continues to increase despite the effects of COVID-19 pandemic in global economies. I make bold to say that genuine investors will benefit from a wide variety of incentives put in place by the Federal Government, and will have no cause to regret choosing Nigeria as an investment destination. Therefore, I urge all potential investors to take full advantage of the new climate of investment promotion under the current administration especially as it relates to the ease of doing business”, Ambassador Mfawa Omini Abam told the gathering.
He also used the medium to thank his fellow compatriots especially for the cooperation he has received from all of them. In his words, “since my arrival, I will continue to urge you to always support government’s programmes and policies. The future and development of Nigeria rest on all of us. We must, therefore, work consciously to key into various laudable projects of the Federal Government, our respective states and local governments. Needless to underscore the positive impact of diaspora remittances to our economy, as it constitutes the second source of foreign exchange receipt. Therefore, I appeal to you to continue to support this sector, while at the same time shunning negative vices in the host country. You must continue to display the Nigerian spirit of hard work, resilience and creativity. On our part, we assure you of our unflinching support”.
He also highlighted the Excellent collaboration that exists between the Embassy and the umbrella bodies of Nigerian Communities, notably NUNAI and NIDOE. These groups he mentioned have not only shown commitment in piloting the affairs of members but have also become dependable partners to the Embassy, in the promotion of the welfare of Nigerians. “Therefore, it behoves on us to scale up our engagements and open new vistas of cooperation, in order to serve our compatriots better. It is perhaps, pertinent to emphasize, the need for our brethren to resist any attempt by some unscrupulous individuals, whom in a bid to achieve some self-seeking goals, are engaged in campaigns of calumny against the Embassy, and by extension bent on straining the excellent relations subsisting between Nigeria and Italy”, the Ambassador stated.
In conclusion, he commended the beautiful, friendly and admirable host country Italy, for her hospitality and openness, and did not fail to applaud the Government of President Sergio Mattarella for maintaining the cordial and warm relations existing between the two countries. Noting that Nigeria – Italy relations date back to the formative years of nationhood and that since then, dealings between the two countries have grown from strength to strength, he said in the past, both countries have exchanged support at both multilateral and bilateral levels.
Whereas, on the economic scene, there are hundreds of Italian businesses operating in key sectors of the Nigerian economy including the petroleum and gas sectors, construction and services (transport, import-export, infrastructure subcontracting for petrol and gas).
“The volume of trade between the two countries runs into billions of euros annually. It is our earnest desire to strengthen these relations and move them to greater heights. Let me also express my appreciation to all of you for carving out time from your tight schedule to honour us with your presence at this special occasion”, Ambassador Mfawa Omini Abam concluded.