By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has advised the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, Richard Montgomery, to always uphold the noble standards of diplomacy, like his predecessors, by respecting the traditional institutions in Nigeria.
The president gave the advice when he received Letters of Credence from the United Kingdom High Commissioner, and his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, Velupillai Kananathan, in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that relations with both countries would be further consolidated, with their consideration for local cultures, 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 cultures and the traditional institutions are the custodians, and they should be respected by all,’’ Buhari told the Envoies, 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.
He assured: “All courtesies would be extended to you to make your stay in Nigeria memorable.”
Buhari said the cultural exchange, through education and training with Britain had been on for many years.
The president recalled 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, UK, 1964.
Buhari 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 UK.
He said 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.
“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,” he said.
The president also 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 29.
The High Commissioner noted that the monarchy had been an integral part of the British system, and it had remained a major attraction and source of honour.
“We have had a long, productive dialogue over security, economic partnership, home affairs, and other issues,’’ he said.
The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka told the president that the country continues to share its skills and experience with the Nigerian military in tackling insurgency.
Kananathan assured that he would consolidate the efforts of his predecessor by strengthening relations on energy projects which had already started in East Africa. (NAN)