From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr John Kayode Fayemi, has called on Nigerians to rise up and defend democracy in the country.
The governor made the call during a courtesy call on the Canadian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Nicolas Simard, at his residence on Monday.
According to a statement by Head, Media and Public Affairs, NGF Secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the visit was part of Governor Fayemi’s shuttle diplomacy to representatives of the diplomatic corps in Nigeria, which is one of the initiatives of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) secretariat towards engendering inter-governmental synergy between global governments at the subnational level.
The NGF Chairman also visited the embassy of the People’s Republic of China and as well as the embassy of the Republic of South Africa, Tuesday.
At all three meetings, Governor Fayemi discussed issues of bilateral importance between the countries and their governments at the subnational level, including citizens engagements, the economic progress of the federating states, youth mobilisation and organisation, and women’s empowerment.
The NGF Chairman also discussed revenue generation, the economy, education, infrastructure development among many others.
The Ekiti governor and Canadian ambassador both agreed that organisations like the NGF were the best platforms for healthy debates with the central governments on issues like restructuring, citizens engagement and internal and external security.
Governor Fayemi rationalised that to advance development it is always in order, to engage countries of interest and their diplomatic representatives to share their understanding of events in their host countries and learn from the experiences of their past.
The NGF Chairman told the Canadian ambassador that Nigeria has made ‘remarkable strides in gender equality with the Nigeria Governors’ Wives in the forefront and their husbands, the governors, as cheer-leaders.’
Governor Fayemi intimated that 27 states including those that were hitherto considered conservative have signed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act as evidence of their commitment to mitigating violence against women in our societies.
The Canadian ambassador noted that he has only been in Nigeria for six months, disclosing that there are 12,000 Nigerians in Canada, 5,000 of which are students adding that there is a $12 million trade relations between the two countries.
Simard added that there are remarkable similarities between Canada and Nigeria and that Canada had also experienced calls by secessionists that Nigeria is currently experiencing, and expressed willingness to help the country in understanding how to find solutions to them.
At the embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Governor Fayemi spoke with Ambassador Cui Jian Chun, assuring that when it comes to Nigeria’s relationship with China he can be certain of the full cooperation of Nigerian governments at the subnational level.
Governor Fayemi also praised the vaccine diplomacy of the Chinese while welcoming any support that will help Nigeria to develop its own vaccines to help raise the ratio of vaccinated people in the population for Nigeria to achieve herd immunity.
In the South African embassy, both leaders conversations revolved heavily around the #EndSARS protests of 2020 and the help that South Africa can render Nigerian youths to be able to articulate their grievances non-violently in order to achieve results.
Both leaders advised Nigerian youths to ‘organise and not agonise’.
The Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to Nigeria, Thamsanqa Dennis Mseleku, discussed three key issues including xenophobia, trade and youth dialogue.
Mseleku noted that the NGF is strategic to such a conversation.