President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, said he understands the yearnings of Nigerians and strongly believes in the collective dream for a greater country, assuring that all would be done to ensure that results of 2019 elections reflect the will of the people.
Receiving Letter of Credence from Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria, Dr Jyrki Juhani Pulkkinen, the president said Nigerians reserved the right to elect leaders at various levels in 2019, and all efforts would be made to safeguard the integrity of the process.
“I respect the people’s feelings,” he said, and “I assure all that we will have a free and fair election next year.”
The president congratulated Finland on its 101 independence anniversary, December 6, 2018, and commended the growing relations with Nigeria, especially in areas of Information Communication Technology (ICT), trade and education.
In his remarks, Ambassador of Finland, said the areas of mutual benefit in relations with Nigeria can be extended to electricity, smart technology and crises management initiatives, pointing out that he will work hard to improve the trade figures and exchanges.
“We will like to contribute to Africa rising, and we know that Nigeria is the biggest country on the continent, so we are very interested in the growth of Nigeria,” he said.
At the level of the United Nations, Dr Pulkkinen said his country will continue to support the restructuring of the multilateral institution to give greater roles to African countries like Nigeria.
The president, who also received letter of Credence from Ambassador of France, Mr. Jerome Pasquier, said French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and the stopover in Lagos, was really impressive in bolstering the two countries’ relations.
The president said he was impressed with relations between France and its former colonies in Africa, stressing that France continues to play positive roles in promoting security and economic growth in the countries.
“France is investing so much in Nigeria and we are grateful,” he said.
The president, however, called for more support in the fight against terrorism, as the networks keep expanding with fighters moving across borders to support insurgents.
Responding, the France ambassador assured that President Macron would continue to support Nigeria, especially in the ongoing war against terrorism, with specific interest in gathering and sharing of intelligence.
He commended the president for Nigeria’s role in resolving the crisis in Togo and Guinea Bissau.
The president also received Letter of Credence from the Ambassador of Czech Republic, Mr. Marek Skolil, and assured him of improved economic relations in areas like solid minerals exploration.
Mr. Skolil said his country would continue to support Nigeria’s military in the fight against terrorism in the North East.
“Nigeria is a very important country for us. We look forward to stronger ties, particularly with the armed forces,” he said.
.. Promises to assent PIB
Meanwhile, President Buhari, has expressed readiness to assent the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) into law once the Bill is presented to him by the National Assembly.
Buhari, who was speaking at a lecture to commemorate the 40th anniversary of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, said the bill would address most of the challenges of the oil workers.
Represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, President Buhari urged the workers to support his administration towards ensuring a better welfare for them.
While commending the workers for the progress made, he urged them to dialogue in resolving issues with government, rather than shutting down the country.
Ngige said: “The president asked me to congratulate you on the celebrations of your 40 years in existence. He is a worker-friendly president that is concerned about better working condition for workers.
“He is a president that respects the rule of law and the law of the land. He promised to sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill once it is brought to him.”
Speaking earlier, NUPENG President, Comrade Williams Akporeha lamented the casualisation of workers by oil companies, adding that the union will always fight for better working condition for members.
“The enormous challenges confronting our union, most especially with regards to the employers, are government and general public perception of our enormous powers, influence and ever constant solidarity.
“We know that most often, many employers are scared of relating with us, and this wrong perception is sometimes responsible for the hostile attitude to our efforts in organising their employees.
“In the light of this realisation, our administration will embark on massive public image polishing and mending relationship with all aggrieved stakeholders. Our new mission is to ensure prosperity and good returns for everyone in the industry. We pledge to be more co-operative and collaborative in our dealings, but without compromising on the best interest of our members and global labour best practices.
“We have further resolved to be more open and engaging in social dialogue with all stakeholders. We urge everyone, government, employers and the general public to know that we are fully committed to rendering efficient, effective and public/stakeholders-friendly services to our dear country and its citizens,” Akporeha assured.