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Buhari receives Letters of Credence from UK, Siri Lanka

President Muhammadu Buhari has advised the new UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Hugh Montgomery, to “always uphold the noble standards of diplomacy”, like his predecessors, by respecting the traditional institutions in the country.

The President, who received Letters of Credence from Mr Montgomery, and his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, Velupillai Kananathan, stressed that relations with both countries would be further consolidated by their “consideration for local culture, traditional rulers, and institutions”.

“I like the way our traditional rulers and institutions are being respected, in spite of the changing times, education, and rising materialism,” he said.

“There is a lot to learn from our culture, and the traditional institutions are the custodians, and they should be respected by all,” he told the two envoys in separate meetings.

President Buhari said the cultural exchange, through education and training, with Britain has been on for many years, recalling that he had military training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England, from 1962 to 1963, as well as the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, where he took the Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course in 1964.

The President told Mr Montgomery that a “good understanding of cultural differences, and respect for institutions” had paved the way for most of the successes of the United Kingdom, noting that previous diplomats had established relations with the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Shehu of Borno, and Emir of Ilorin, the ancient gateway to the North.

The President said: “In one of my meetings with King Charles III, he asked me an interesting question, if I had a house in England, and I replied that I don’t have a house, not an inch, anywhere outside Nigeria.”.

He told the Sri Lankan diplomat that the participation of women in politics and governance in Nigeria had steadily increased over the years, as he made reference to the first female Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

“Recently, we got close to having the first female governor in Nigeria,” he added.

In his remarks, Mr Montgomery said the United Kingdom had always held Nigeria and its cultural institutions in high esteem, while relating the best wishes of King Charles III, as Nigeria prepares for the handover ceremony on May 29.

The High Commissioner noted that the monarchy had been an integral part of the British system, and has remained a major attraction and source of honour.

“We have had a long, productive dialogue over security, economic partnership, home affairs, and other issues,” he said.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner told President Buhari that the country had continued to share its skills and experience with the Nigerian military in tackling insurgent groups.

Mr Kananathan assured the Nigerian leader that he would consolidate the efforts of his predecessor by strengthening relations on energy projects, which had already started in East Africa.

Reporting by Abdullah Bello; Editing by Daniel Adejo and Tony Okerafor