By G9ija

President Muhammadu Buhari has been awarded the highest national award of Niger Republic, Grand Croix Des Ordre National Du Niger, by President Mahamadou Issoufou.

On Tuesday, Issoufou said the honour was bestowed on Buhari because of his “fraternity, vigour, patriotism and determination to move Africa forward, starting from the West Coast”.

Issoufou thanked him and Nigerians for the support he received as leader of his country for ten years, particularly during Buhari’s time as Chairman of ECOWAS, describing Nigeria as a “second home’’.

In his remarks, Buhari hailed the outgoing leader for upholding the tenets of democracy, improving the economy and consolidating the good relations between both nations.

He noted that Issoufou’s achievements have been widely acclaimed including his recent award of the Mo Ibrahim Prize.

Buhari said his first visit after assuming office in 2015 was to the Niger Republic, adding that the choice underscored the value and quality of relations between both countries.

“Nigeria-Niger relations are based on a long common border and shared cultural and historical roots. Relations between the two countries have, over the years, been very cordial and fraternal. There is a spirit of good neighbourliness between us.”

He highlighted the cultural similarity such as common languages – Hausa, Kanuri and Fulfude – and a border of 1500 kilometres.

The Nigerian leader urged the President-elect of Niger to build on the achievements of his predecessor in office.

He added that military institutions like Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji and National War College, Abuja, and the Police Academy in Gwoza and Kano have provided training for the security officers of the neighbouring country.