Republic Day Speech by Indian High Commissioner
On Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 1925 hrs. at India House
Her Excellency Prof (Mrs) Viola Onwuliri, Minister of State (I) for Foreign Affairs,
Her Excellency Mrs Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi, Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs,
His Excellency Dr Paul Orhii, Director General, NAFDAC,
I am very grateful for you all honouring my invitation for attending the reception on India’s 62 Republic Day anniversary.
At the onset, it is my solemn duty to request us to observe a minute of silence in honour of the innocent victims of last Friday’s violence in Kano. Among them was a 23-year old Indian national Shri K.K. Rajput. In addition, six Indians were injured, including a six year old child hit in both eyes by flying glass shrapnel.
On this day in 1950, India adopted a written Constitution as framework for the politics and society of a country which has come to be known as world’s largest democracy. During past sixty two years, this document has provided mooring to our evolving polity. It has also become a valuable point of reference for tolerant, multi-ethnic, multi-religious developing societies all over the world. Much of the credit for India’s amazing ability to reconcile democracy with rapid economic growth should go to the solid foundations laid by the foresight of framers of our Constitution.
This commitment to democracy is one of the high values which we share with Nigeria. These shared ideals have provided the basis for cordial and substantive ties. We are glad to note that during past year the bilateral ties have remained cordial and gained substance. Last May we were privileged to have HE Arc. Mohammed Namdi Sambo, Vice President of Nigeria, participate in second India-Africa Forum Summit. In March 2011, the Foreign Ministers of India and Nigeria co-chaired fifth session of their Joint Commission in New Delhi. Among other important official visits was that of HE Dr Samsudeen Usman, Minister of National Planning to India in December 2011.
With annual bilateral trade in excess of $ 13 billion, India continued to be Nigeria’s second largest trading partner. We were the largest investor-country in Nigeria in 2010 and major new Indian investments were announced in 2011. India’s Airtel alone is amidst 600 million dollar network expansion plan in Nigeria.
At people-to-people level too, the bilateral ties grew rapidly. Nearly 33,000 Nigerians got Indian visas during 2011 – up 40% on 2010. Even as Primus Superspeciality Hospital in Abuja continued to expand its unprecedented and unmatched services, India has become a destination of choice for Nigerians seeking state-of-art healthcare combining quality with affordability. More Nigerian students are also heading to India.
Cultural links with Nigeria were boosted by highly acclaimed performances by India’s Theyyam Classical Dance Group at Abuja Carnival as well as in Lagos, Kano and Cotonou, capital of Benin Republic.
Before I conclude, I would like to request you to join me in raising the toast to the further growth in brotherly ties between Nigeria and India.