Ambassador Shehu Presents Letter Of Credence To The Belarusian President, Interacts With Nigerian Community In Belarus
On 3rd February, 2022, H.E. (Prof.) Abdullahi Yibaikwal Shehu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Russian Federation with Concurrent Accreditation to the Republic of Belarus was among 8 other foreign envoys who presented their Letters of Credence to H.E Mr. Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus at the Independence Palace in Minsk.
During the presentation, President Lukashenko highlighted that, “Belarus acknowledges and esteems the Federal Republic of Nigeria as an important and promising foreign economic partner particularly in the area of agriculture and trade relations.” He further assured that the participation of Belarus in the mechanization of agriculture in Nigeria, the development of infrastructure and the implementation of joint projects for the extraction of minerals will strengthen the cords between both nations.
The Ambassador towards fostering Nigeria’s National interest and strengthening the bilateral cooperation between both countries, guaranteed the Host President of his commitment and dedication to advance and deepen our collaborations in different areas for our mutual benefits. H.E Prof. Shehu while stressing the Nigeria population as an entry point into Africa market employed the president to take advantage of the largest market and favourable business environment and invest in Nigeria. President Lukashenko assured of his closest cooperation with Nigeria especially in the field of agriculture and minerals development.
The Ambassador after presenting his Letter also had an interactive meeting with the Nigerian Community Belarus chapter on 5th February 2022 , to listen to and discuss some of the challenging issues faced by Nigerians across Belarus and to highlight his plans for a better and accessible community where every citizen is treated as important. The citizens who were very elated to receive Mr. Ambassador stressed that this visit was long overdue. The warm interaction also afforded Nigerian citizens in Belarus the opportunity to speak with their government representative and expressed their dissatisfactions in areas of core concerns.
Some of the challenges mentioned by the citizens includes how Nigerians students are treated across their various institutions in the country. It was noted that some students find it very difficult to pay their tuition because they were not allowed to work while studying and this has been a disturbing trend for many who find it difficult to survive as they have been threatened with expulsions. The students pleaded with the Ambassador to help initiate an agreement whereby the Nigerian Embassy can be contacted before any student is been expelled and also seek for opportunities where summer jobs can be made available for students.
The diasporians also expressed their grievances with delay in issuance and renewal of International passports. Travel agents in Nigeria who ‘deceitfully’ bring Nigerians to Belarus under the mantra of “Study and Work” was another important issue raised . The community urged the Ambassador to help use his good office in sensitizing citizens back home that such opportunity is just a mirage and conduit for exploitation and suffering, especially as currently experienced.
Responding to these challenges faced by Nigerians across Belarus, The Nigerian Envoy expressed great displeasure on the issues raised and pointed his readiness to help make life easier for all Nigerian living in Belarus. His Excellency swung into prompt and encouraging action by requesting for information of all stranded Nigerians and those held in any detention centers or prisons. He stated the efforts of the Rapid Response Squad with the Authority in Moscow over Nigerian citizens who might be in police incarcerations whatsover.
His Excellency assured that the Authority in Moscow will liaise with the Minister of Education to make sure the Embassy is always informed through the Community Leadership if for any reason any Nigerian student/students are facing expulsion (s) due to lack of tuition payment before such drastic decision could be taken by their school authorities. He stated that the Authority in Moscow has on-going negotiations with Belarusian Immigration to allow Nigerian students work especially during summer holidays and it’s a continuous process till it becomes a reality. Furthermore, agreement is almost reached for Authority in Moscow in establishing Nigerian Belarusian Chamber of Commerce.
Likewise, towards strengthening the bilateral cooperation between both countries, the Nigerian authority in Moscow is working on a Bilateral Scholarship Scheme for Nigerian citizens ,that through the Belarusian Ministry of Agriculture slots are being provided to train Nigeria citizens in different areas of mechanized agriculture with partial Scholarship scheme. Additionally, in the meeting held by the Ambassador with the Belarus Chamber Of Commerce alongside Organization of Private sector, an initiative done in Russia is planned to be instituted in Belarus with the help of the Committee for Cooperation in Africa. This will enable major companies who are interested to trade with Nigeria to identify, train and eventually offer employment to Nigerian who are doing well in their respective university in area such as Engineering, Information Technology and Medicine. This initiative will also offer financial help to Nigerian student and enhanced individual and community improvements.
Also, during the course of the meeting, the immigration section led by Mrs. Beatrice Oyeronke Akinrinsola carried out passport intervention process for Nigerian citizens who require passport renewal and document notarization.
His Excellency enjoined Nigerians to be free to contact the Embassy whenever any need arises stating that the Mission operates a transparent and open door policy and its citizens are always welcomed. The Ambassador remarked that the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow will be delighted to celebrate Nigeria 62nd Independence Anniversary with their citizens in Belarus come October 1st, 2022. H.E Prof. Abdullahi Shehu urged all citizens to remain calm, law abiding and be patriotic at all times, assuring that the Nigerian Government and the Embassy holds every citizen including those in diaspora in utmost regards.
The interactions ended in good note and all present were happy with the Envoy and the effective and timely representation now enjoyed noting that his fatherly dispositions, vast experience, genuine concerns for their plights and welfare of Nigerians in Russia and Belarus are assurances of a beneficial ‘Tour of Duty’ that will yield productive outcomes now and in the days and urges the Ambassador to keep the good works on. They congratulated the Envoy, his leadership Team and the Embassy staff in general.
Long Live Nigeria-Belarus Relations
Acclaim Nigeria International Magazine (ANIM) senior correspondent, Moses Taiwo, covered the event in Belarus