Vanguard (Lagos)

22 March 2014

Nigeria: Namibians Hail Jonathan 'Igwe!'

President Goodluck Jonathan rounded up his state visit to Namibia yesterday where he was conferred with "Order of Welwitschia", the Namibia highest national honour, by President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

The ceremony took place at the Independence Stadium, Windhoek, and was attended by the founding President and the father of the Namibian nation, Dr Sam Nujoma.

Over 35,000 persons witnessed the ceremony at the stadium which was full to capacity.

President Jonathan who arrived the stadium in in company of his wife, Dame Patience, was greeted with a loud shout of "Igwe!' (King) popularised by Nigerian Nollywood film that is hugely followed by other African countries.

President Pohamba said the honour was conferred on President Jonathan in recognition of the selfless contributions by the government and the people of Nigeria to Namibia's national liberation struggle.

He noted that, despite the geographic distance, Nigeria played a prominent role together with the Frontline states in supporting the liberation movements in Southern Africa, including SWAPO of Namibia.

He also hailed Nigeria's steadfast and consistent contributions to the resolution of conflicts and the maintenance of peace and stability in Africa, pointing out Nigeria's role in the crisis in Cote d' Ivoire, Mali and in other parts of Africa.

In a citation read before President Jonathan was decorated by Pohamba, the Master of Ceremony said that successive Nigerian government has stood with Namibia in thick and tin.

She said that during the SWAPO struggle for Independence, Nigeria consistently appropriated specific budget vote for the liberation movement, the distance notwithstanding.

"Many sons and daughters of Nigeria sacrificed their lives for the freedom and independence of Namibia," she said.

The Master of ceremony also said that President Jonathan has demonstrated astute leadership in confronting the challenges faced by Nigeria and the continent.

President Jonathan thanked Pohamba and the people of Namibia for the award, which he said underscored the long- standing relationship between the two countries.

"Although I have been given the honour as Nigeria's President, I recognise that this gesture rightly belongs to the Nigerian people, on whose behalf I am privileged to serve.

"I want to thank you also for the privileged and opportunity of sharing this indepence anniversary celebration with you.

"Twenty four years in the history of any nation is no mean achievement.

"This occasion rightly provides an opportunity to reflect on the blessings of your independence and freedom. It is also a special time to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead," he said.

The President paid tribute to the elderstateman and leading Pan-Africanist, Nujoma, and all Namibia freedom fighters for their vision and personal sacrifice which won their nation's freedom and independence.

President Jonathan left shortly after the ceremony the President left Namibia for Rome and the Vatican for talks on Saturday with Pope Francis and Monsignor Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Secretary of State.

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