Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria had been learning from the mistakes of those who practised democracy for a longer period, and by looking inward at its own peculiarities.
He further assured that the country’s democracy is steadily improving with deeper understanding of the culture and tenets among the people, and strengthening of the institutions that guarantee free and fair elections.
He said this yesterday, when he received Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. President Buhari said he saw the evolving strength of democracy in the country by contesting for elections three times before winning at the fourth attempt in 2015.
“I emphasise free and fair elections at all times,” he said.
The president said the bilateral relations with Canada will continue to improve considering the huge interest of the country in Nigeria and growing economic ties, with many Nigerians schooling and working in the country. He said Canada played a brotherly role in helping displaced persons in the North East, following Boko Haram insurgency.
In her remarks, the Governor General said Nigeria and Canada enjoy a warm and strong partnership that has translated into ease of migration, large trade relations and cultural exchanges.
Payette, who is an astronaut, said it was important for nations to pool resources together to start exploring the benefits of space in providing solutions to some problems on earth. The Canadian noted that the world would achieve more by de-emphasising geographical differences and refocusing its energy on the commonality of humanity, pointing out that from space, one can only see an earth without borders.
Payette, said her visit was about showcasing “youth, innovation and technology’’, adding that Canada would like to partner Nigeria in the ongoing diversification of the economy.
She said Nigeria and Canada would cement their trade relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries. “Nigeria is an important regional power, the most populous country in Africa, the largest economy and influential centre of arts and culture, dance literature, folklore music and film.”