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2012 INDEPENDENCE SPEECH ::

Honorable Minister of State 1 of Foreign Affairs
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Senior Government Officials
Dr. Ajoke Mohammed, former First lady of Nigeria
Distinguished Members of the Namibia – Nigeria Chamber of Commerce
Ladies and Gentlemen

The month of March bears significant importance not only for Namibia but also for women and girls across the globe. I therefore deem it highly appropriate and befitting to wish Her Excellency, Dr. Dame Patience Jonathan, First Lady of Nigeria, the entire Nigerian woman folk and all women present here this evening Happy International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day.

As I welcome you all distinguished friends of Namibia to the commemoration of our 22nd Independence Anniversary, I wish to place on record my deep appreciation for the traditional warm welcome extended to me since my arrival just over a year ago in this beautiful city of Abuja.

22 years ago, on the 21st of March, the international community including Nigeria joined the people of Namibia as our national symbol of sacrifice, unity and prosperity – our flag was hoisted for the first time on our soil. Among those who jubilated with us was our gracious host, Nigeria, a country that stood with us during our struggle against apartheid colonialism till the very end. It mattered not who was the Head of State of this great nation at a given time. From Tafawa Balewa to Murtala Mohammed and all those who succeeded him, Nigeria stood firm, Nigeria did not waiver. This is a country and people who have continued to assist us during the transition to nationhood and reconstruction. It is thus this formidable bond of friendship between our two countries that continues to sustain our excellent bilateral relations.

The political independence gave us a platform to realize the aspirations for which we fought and sacrificed. During the 22 years of nationhood, we have reason to celebrate our achievements hitherto and to be optimistic about a brighter future. Our fledgling democracy continues to be consolidated which in turn nurtures sustainable development in our country. Today, Namibia is among the top tourist destinations in Africa. But Namibia is not just a destination. It is an experience to have. A travel through Namibia combines world class tourist infrastructure with a sensation of unique vastness, peace and tranquility. Namibia boasts of the highest sand dunes in the world and the second largest canyon, one of the world most breath taking natural wonders, the Fish River Canyon, which is a protected area, not to talk of our game parks.

Like many other developing countries, Namibia faces development challenges. Hence, we have developed an economic Blue Print, Vision 2030 which seeks to transform our economy so that by the year 2030, the living standards of our people would be at a level comparable to those in industrialized countries. Through concerted efforts and cooperation with our bilateral, multilateral partners and the private sector, we shall realize our objectives. Namibia has a wealth of investment opportunities ranging from mining and fisheries to exploration of gas and hydrocarbons. These areas have attracted increased attention from international investors and we enjoin Nigerian and other African investors to explore them further.

As we look ahead to the future, we are committed to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation with Nigeria. This year the Joint Commission of Cooperation between Nigeria and Namibia mark 20 years. The Fifth Session of the JCC is scheduled to take place in Namibia in the second half of this Year. To date we have benefitted from the skills of the Nigeria volunteer teachers and medical doctors and for this we are grateful.

International relations continue to evolve and new challenges and opportunities are emerging. As Africans, we need to deepen intra-Africa trade to facilitate integration and derive tangible benefit from globalization

As such, during the forthcoming JCC, our two countries will give new impetus to our relations by identifying new areas to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation and optimise trade and investment for mutual benefit. This will give full and concrete meaning to the relations that so happily exist between our two countries.

May I now invite you all, to kindly join me in raising our glasses to the good health of His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan and to long lasting friendship and cooperation.

I thank you.