President Goodluck Ebere Jonathan of Nigeria arrived in Malawi Monday morning at the start of his three-day working visits to Malawi and Botswana aimed at enhancing economic and socio-political relations with other African nations.
The presidential jet carrying the Nigerian leader and his entourage touched down at the Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe at exactly 06:30hrs.
He was welcomed by his Malawian counterpart Joyce Banda including the country’s Vice President Khumbo Kachali and other senior government and ruling People’s Party (PP) officials.
Hundreds of Nigerians residing in Malawi particularly those from Lilongwe donning white and green t-shirts and golf-shirts written ‘Welcome His Excellency Dr Jonathan Goodluck to Malawi,’ joined by their Malawian peers also thronged the airport to give President Jonathan a resounding welcome.
The two leaders inspected a Guard of Honour mounted by the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) before they drove to Lilongwe Civic Center offices where the visiting president was granted the Freedom of the City of Lilongwe.
The Nigerian President is expected to depart Malawi early Tuesday for a similar visit to the diamond rich nation of Botswana before flying back to Abuja on Wednesday.
And speaking to reporters on arrival, President Jonathan said it was important for him to pay Malawi a two-day visit after President Banda did so twice- in April and July- since taking over office.
“Your President has visited us two times after taking office, the very last time was when she came as a special guest when my wife hosted all African First Ladies and we feel Malawi and Nigeria need to have a robust relationship.
“Even the late president [Bingu wa Mutharika] visited us not long before he passed on, it was quite unfortunate, and since then I have not been able to come so we decided that I have to come this time for two days visit,” said Jonathan one of Africa’s most powerful leaders.
The President also underlined the need for economic cooperation between Malawi and Nigeria to improve the wellbeing of the people of the two countries.
According to Nigeria State House reports, while in Malawi President Jonathan will take part in a Nigeria-Malawi Business Forum and launching of the Malawi’s National Cassava Project in addition to holding bilateral talks with President Banda.
He will also have an audience with some of the hundreds of Nigerians residing in the country for both business errands and work.
In Botswana, Jonathan will participate in a Nigeria-Botswana Business Seminar and then tour the Jwaneng Mine and Diamond Trading Company of Botswana besides holding talks with President Seretse Khama Ian Khama and interacting with Nigerians living in that country.
On his visit, Jonathan’s entourage also include, among others, Governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Senator Sahabi Alhaji Yau, Jones C. Oyereri, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Musa Mohammed Sada, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed.