Nigerians enjoy ‘unfettered freedom of speech’ – Buhari

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PRESIDENT Buhari says Nigerians enjoy unfettered freedom of speech.

The President spoke today while receiving Letters of Credence from Ambassadors and High Commissioners of six countries at the State House, Abuja.

The Ambassadors and High Commissioners of Republic of India, Mr Gangadharan Balasubramanian, Germany, Mrs Annett Gunther, Sudan, Mr Mohamed Yousif Ibrahim Abdelmannan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mrs Gerengbo Yakivu Pascaline, State of Palestine, Abdullah M.A. Abu Shawesh and The Kingdom of Netherlands, Mr Willem Wouter Plomp, presented their Letters of Credence to President Buhari.

President Buhari, while speaking, said: “I am highly optimistic that we will conduct a good transition process at the end of which a new set of political leaders will freely emerge.

“You are assuming your diplomatic responsibilities in Nigeria, at very interesting political period as Nigeria’s national elections are due in February 2023. I want to state again, as I did just a few days ago at the UN General Assembly, that we remain committed to free and fair elections,’’ he added.

The President, who assured that participation of citizens in democracy would continue to be encouraged through freedom of speech and robust political discourse, urged respect for divergent cultures and opinions, while upholding the unity of the country.

Buhari told the diplomats that Nigeria’s strength remained in its diversity, and the constant differences in positions further signpost a strong democratic culture.

“As you settle down to your diplomatic responsibilities, you will realise how diverse Nigeria is. We are not only multi-ethnic and religious but also multi-cultural. We enjoy unfettered freedom of speech and engage in robust political discourses. Sometimes, the nature of these discourses, tend to give the impression that we are constantly opposed to each other.”

The President called for more collectiveness in tackling some of the challenges faced by nations, adding that the climatic, economic and security concerns can only be solved through shared vision, skills and efforts.

“The various factors that account for these challenges are beyond the capacity of any single country to effectively contain them alone. Hence, the necessity for all of us to work closely together to build consensus in order to overcome them and also minimize tensions and confrontations amongst and between ourselves,’’ he said.

On behalf of the diplomats, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria assured President Buhari of the full support of their countries, especially as Nigeria counts down to the 2023 elections, adding that they would work with his government, and the leader that emerges after elections.

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