The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, has called on Nigerians to rise to the defence of democracy in Nigeria with a view to advancing the development of the country.

Mr Fayemi made the call Tuesday in Abuja when he visited the Canadian Ambassador to Nigeria, Nicolas Simard, at his residence.

The visit by the NGF Chairman was part of the Chairman’s shuttle diplomacy to representatives of the diplomatic corps in Nigeria, which is one of the initiatives of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum’s secretariat towards engendering inter-governmental synergy between global governments at the subnational level.

Mr Fayemi’s visits on Monday took him to the residence of the Canadian ambassador to Nigeria, and the embassy of the People’s Republic of China and ended at the embassy of the Republic of South Africa.

At all the three meetings, Governor Fayemi discussed issues of bilateral importance between the countries and their governments at the subnational level, including citizens engagements, economic progress of the federating states, youth mobilization and organisation, and women’s empowerment.

Other issues discussed include revenue generation, the economy, education, infrastructure development among many others.

Both the NGF Chairman and the Canadian ambassador agreed that organisations like the NGF are the best platforms for healthy debates with the central governments on issues like restructuring, citizens engagement and internal and external security.

Mr Fayemi said to advance development, it is always better to engage countries of interest and their diplomatic representatives to share their understanding of events in their host countries and learn from the experiences of their past.

Specifically, the NGF Chairman told the Canadian ambassador that Nigeria has made “remarkable strides in gender equality with the Nigeria Governors’ Wives in the forefront and their husbands, the Governors, as cheer-leaders.”

Mr Fayemi disclosed that 27 states including those that were hitherto considered conservative, have signed the VAP Act, as evidence of their commitment to mitigating violence against women in our societies.

Mr Simard, who told Mr Fayemi that he has only been in Nigeria for six months, said there are 12000 Nigerians in Canada, 5000 0f whom are students adding that there is a $12m trade relations between the two countries.

Mr Simard disclosed that there are remarkable similarities between Canada and Nigeria and that Canada also experienced calls by secessionists that Nigeria is currently experiencing, and expressed willingness to help Nigeria in understanding how to find solutions to them.

At the embassy of the People’s Republic of China, where he spoke with the ambassador, Cui Jian Chun, the NGF chairman criticised the death-trap diplomacy that has been wrapped around the conversation in most African countries when it comes to their relationship with China.

He assured the ambassador of the full cooperation of Nigerian governments at the subnational level.

Mr Fayemi also praised the vaccine diplomacy of the Chinese government while welcoming any support that will help Nigeria to develop its own vaccines to help raise the ratio of vaccinated people for Nigeria to achieve herd immunity.

When he visited the South African embassy, the conversation revolved around the ENDSARS movement and the help the South African people could give Nigerian youths to be able to articulate their grievances in a non-violent manner towards achieving results.

Both leaders advised Nigerian youths to “organise and not agonise”.

The ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to Nigeria, Thamsanqa Dennis Mseleku, discussed three key issues including xenophobia, trade and youth dialogue.

Ambassador Dennis Mseleku argued that the NGF is strategic to such conversations.

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