AMBSSADOR DR ENIOLA AJAYI INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH IN BUDAPEST
Your Excellencies, Our Special Guest of Honour – Mr Mark Horvárt, Director of African Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Citizens of Nigeria, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. Our special acknowledgment goes to Mr Sándor Lezsák, the Deputy Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly. You’re welcome to the 2018 National Day of Nigeria. Jó estét kívánok.
OCTOBER 1, 1960 – Marks the day Nigeria proclaimed her independence from the British Colonial rule. That makes us exactly 58 years old as a Nation, today. I am particularly honoured to be representing a man of integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, here in Hungary at this auspicious time in our history.
I would like to wish China, Cyprus, Tuvalu and the Republic of Korea, our co-celebrants of this National Day, congratulations and many happy returns. We couldn’t celebrate last year because I arrived in Hungary precisely on October 23rd, 2017, which incidentally was a National day for Hungary.
I am happy to note that the bilateral relations between our countries have enjoyed a boost since then and I sincerely hope we can deepen and expand our areas of collaboration and increase the volume of trade, both ways. We are grateful to the government of Hungary for the 50 Scholarship slots offered to our students through Stipendium Hungaricum and 100 scholarship slots through the Christian Young People scheme which enables some of our students to pursue higher education at various Institutions of Higher learning annually.
We are also grateful for the recent donation of 310m HUF to help in the reconstruction of four schools and a hospital in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, where citizens were affected by the scourge of Boko Haram.
I am happy to say that we have been able to decimate the rampage of Boko Haram and we are unrelenting in our efforts to rid our country of them. The main focus of our government is to secure the lives of our citizens, preserve our sovereignty, entrench good governance as well as rid our country of corruption, build wealth and institutions to improve the living standards of every Nigerian. I am glad to report that we are making significant and steady progresses in these areas.
This is evident in the way we bounced back from recession in less than a year and the economy actually recorded a growth of 1.95% in the first quarter of 2018. This was possible due to improvement in global oil pricing, a diversification to non-oil generating areas such as Agriculture and Solid Minerals, with more coordinated, tighter monetary, fiscal and trade policies.
Nigeria is such a naturally blessed country. There is at least a mineral deposit in each of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. About 34 of them are available in commercial quantities. The commercial value of Nigeria’s solid minerals have been estimated to run into hundreds of trillions of dollars. The focus of the current administration is to develop 7 strategic minerals namely: Coal, Bitumen, Limestone, Iron Ore, Barites, Gold, and Lead/Zinc to begin with.
Agriculture is another sector where we have made giant strides in our very recent history. Nigeria is focusing seriously on the ability to feed its people. The progress in this sector can be measured by the fact that Nigeria is almost self sufficient in rice production and quite a number of our crops are now being produced to exportable standards and quantities. I believe we can partner with other countries and Hungary in this sector to develop our agricultural value chain to our mutual benefits. We are gradually moving our farmers from subsistence agriculture to mechanized agriculture.
Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, is an emerging economy that has been predicted to be among the top 15 economies by year 2050. Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, presently. We have opportunities in almost every sector of our economy: Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Automotive, Tourism, Education, Services, Manufacturing, Power, and Infrastructural Development, generally.
I am particularly excited about the current trends in our national development, as it is no surprise that some countries have started to take notice. There is a substantial increase in Foreign Direct Investments. It is a land brimming with opportunities. I invite you my compatriots and distinguished colleagues to join us in the efforts that will bring about a total emancipation of Nigeria, and Africa, as a whole.
I am proud of the growth we have made in our democracy as we have enjoyed smooth transition of power since 1999, and we are looking forward to a free and fair election process in 2019. Nigeria is a friend to all. We believe in fairness, justice and consideration for our fellow men. Nigeria, a culturally diverse nation with about 250 ethnic groups and over 500 indigenous languages, is on the path to greatness and the world will be better for it. I dare say that the world would not have to wait too long anymore.
We would like to acknowledge the support of Gidi2u, Intoto, Inter-project, Mr Sylvester Aguddah, Mr Femi Artdagunodo, and Rev. Fr. Augustus Esiobu.
I am really grateful to all of you who found time to honour our invitation to celebrate our National Day. This past year would not have been possible without your Excellencies and Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. You have been an integral part of any success we can lay any claim to. We look forward to more fruitful years of International Diplomacy as we continue the inclusion for our Citizens and host Nations, image building and investment drives for Nigeria. We are open for genuine friendship and real business.