Momodou S Njie, permanent secretary at the Department of State for Foreign Affairs, deputising for his secretary of state, yesterday, laid the foundation stone for a new chancellery building for the Nigerian High Commission in Bakau.
Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony, Momodou S Njie said The Gambia-Nigeria relationship started decades ago and the ceremony was a testimony of the fruitful bilateral relationship that exists between the two countries.
According to Permanent Secretary Njie, The Gambia is very grateful to the Nigerian government for their technical assistance in the areas of health, education and the judiciary. He said the idea for the allocation of land for a chancellery building to the Nigeria High Commission was cherished by the Gambian leader, Dr Alhaji Yahya Jammeh. He added that The Gambia government is open to all and will be willing to allocate land to foreign embassies who want to build permanent chancellery buildings in The Gambia.
For his part, Mr OB Okongor, acting Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia, said Nigeria established diplomatic relations with The Gambia way back in the 1960s.
“The Nigerian mission opened here in 1963 but was overseen by Nigeria’s envoy in Senegal until its first resident ambassador moved to Banjul in 1989.
In light of the increasing diplomatic activities between our countries, we approached our Gambian brothers in 1990 for a place to site a permanent mission and it was readily granted. However, due to one reason or the other, the mission was not able to commence construction and that site was re-allocated.
This present site was allocated to the High Commission in 2003. An architectural plan for the building was commissioned and completed in 2005. We have plans to complete this building in the shortest time possible. The best laid plans would amount to nothing without the support of our fellow Nigerians and Gambian brothers”.
The permanent site, according to him, would signify a further solidifying of relations between The Gambia and Nigeria.
“Furthermore, it would signify a solidifying of relations with our African brothers, an evidence of Nigeria’s commitment to Africa,” he concluded.
Also speaking at the ceremony,Foday Yumklla the Sierra Leonean High Commissioner in The Gambia said chancellery building symbolises Nigeria being brought into The Gambia. He expressed his close ties with Nigeria.
Professor Richard Adegbola of the MRC in a short statement stated the support of the Nigeria community in The Gambia at all times.