By Bakary Ceesay
Dr. Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, on Tuesday 6th October met his Nigerian counterpart, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, in his office in Abuja, Nigeria.
Following diplomatic engagement with Foreign Minister Tangara and his team, the Nigerian Foreign Minister said his country is pushing towards increasing trade volumes with The Gambia and strengthening bilateral relations across all spheres.
Minister Tangara appreciated Nigeria for the tremendous support it has given to The Gambia and the pivotal role played in the entire sub-region. He further appreciated Nigeria’s support to The Gambia’s Armed Forces and the Judiciary, stating that without Nigeria’s support to the Gambian Judiciary, it would have been completely crippled.
He said to show appreciation, the Gambian President Adama Barrow has decided to posthumously honour Late Gen. Abubakar Dada, a Nigerian soldier who helped in the formation of the Gambian Armed Forces.
“The Gambia is very grateful to Nigeria because if at some point Nigeria were to withdraw from the Judiciary, our judiciary will be completely crippled.
“But with thanks to the support of Nigeria we have been able to build our judiciary with home grown lawyers, magistrates and that could not have been possible without the support of Nigeria.
“In very critical levels you helped us build the most valuable resource in our country, and that is our human resource and we are so very grateful for that.
“We cannot also talk about our Armed Forces in The Gambia without mentioning Nigeria. You have been key in the setting up of the Armed Forces of The Gambia.
“And today in the Gambia, people like the Late General Abubakar Dada is a household name in The Gambia.
“Everybody knows about him and we have decided to honour him posthumous and that is the best way we can say Thank you to Nigeria and his family,” Foreign Minister Tangara said.
For his part, Foreign Minister Onyeama said that Nigeria has made enormous contributions to peace and reforms in The Gambia and how much the volume of trade made and how that has translated into something meaningful.
“The Gambia is a small country and there are quite a small number of Nigerians in The Gambia and a lot of them are doing business there.
“Some are professionals working in the Gambia and the nature of relationship we have is such that Nigerians in the Gambia feel very much at home and very welcomed.
“There are some Nigerian businesses that are very present in the Gambia, banks and we used to have one of our carriers that fly to Gambia some years back.
“There is more we can do and that is what the strengthening of the relations is all about.
“We have a framework for cooperation, bilateral commission and also we will be pushing towards increasing the volume of trade between Nigeria and Gambia,” Onyeama said.
Foreign Minister Onyeama said Nigeria is excited with the restoration of democracy in The Gambia and will continue to engage with the rest of the ECOWAS sub region to sustain this.
“Of course we are cooperating in different areas within the West African sub region addressing the different challenges that are constantly being posed in our sub region.
“And we count very much on your government, your country as a very strong dependable friend, ally in our efforts to strengthen governance, prosperity in our sub-region.
“Your visit here will give us the opportunity to review the relationship between our two countries and also to identify areas where we can improve things and develop a roadmap going forward,” Onyeama added.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, who happens to be brother to the late General Dada appreciated the Gambian government for honouring his brother.