By H.E. Mrs. SAFIYA AHMAD NUHU Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Romania, with concurrent accreditation to Bulgaria and Slovenia
The 1st of October every year marks a particularly special occasion for Nigeria. It signifies the day when Nigeria got its independence from Britain in 1960, sixty-one years ago. This year, like the last, the celebration is low-key, and modest, as the world battles a global pandemic which brings humanity ever closer together, demonstrating the interconnectivity of the world and of humanity -yet further in the physical space, restricting our ability to meet and celebrate together.
Indeed, a day such as this cannot pass without recalling our years of nation building, of the struggles to build a democracy, and our attainment of such. Rightfully, unity and faith, peace and progress have remained Nigeria’s Motto. The last year has tested the resilience of every nation, throwing many into economic crises. Although many challenges as a consequence of the COVID 19 pandemic abound, our resilience is worth celebrating. Our COVID 19 infection rates have remained low, with 205, 047 confirmed cases, of which 193, 260 cases were discharged and 2, 695 deaths recorded. From an estimated population of over 200 million, this indicates relatively low infection rates than many other parts of the globe. However, it is only about 3.4 million people that are vaccinated. The global fight against the deadly virus makes it essential to collaboratively work together towards resilience, addressing global inequities, extending vaccine diplomacy and helping to fight the pandemic and its consequences.
As part of our recovery plan, President Muhammadu Buhari Administration declared its commitment to rebuilding better, in a way that is more inclusive, sustainable and resilient. The consequential fall in crude oil prices as a result of COVID demonstrated the imperative of diversification across all sectors. The recovery plan has a wide scope which includes investments in clean energy, agriculture and infrastructure-interesting areas for investment opportunities. Other notable strides within 2020 include the concerted effort to cushion the impact of COVID 19 on businesses and on citizens. Stimulus funding and grants were given to promote small and medium scale industries and help sustain businesses. The government strategically also supported women-owned businesses -proactive steps towards inclusive growth and development.
Interestingly, developments in National and Regional Policy frameworks also present vibrant opportunities for the future. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 2020 and offers a host of opportunities for investment. Nigeria is already set to incentivize sectors which promote the AfCTA. Nigeria is strategically positioned as Africa’s largest economy, its largest market, and largest potential. Its immense natural and human resources places it as the most strategic country in Africa. Although hampered by challenges similar to many African countries, Nigeria’s resilience is unquestionable.
The adoption of the Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020-2030 was yet another landmark achievement in 2020. This is further strengthened by the launching of the e-Naira today, to mark our 61st Independence Anniversary. The eNaira, Nigeria’s digital currency, offers better payment prospects and attraction for investments. It pushes the boundaries of innovation, and set towards the transformation of the economy and sectors aligned with the Digital Economy Policy. These, and similar promising initiatives open up opportunities for enhanced economic and investment opportunities. E naira makes transactions cheaper, safer, easier and better. It facilitates trade and investment and has a special appeal for prospective investors.
It is in this spirit that we extend our warm regards to the good people of Romania, and decided to extend some modest humanitarian support, to both the elderly and the vulnerable refugees in one of the most historic parts of Romania – Radauti. Indeed, the year 2020 has demonstrated the slogan ‘United We Stand – Divided We Fall’.
I Wish Us All a Happy Independence Day!