President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on Sunday, with the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, insisting on chauffeuring him to dinner.
Buhari’s aircraft, Nigerian Air Force 001, touched down at the newly built VIP Terminal of Bole International Airport at 5:06 p.m (Nigerian time).
The president was accorded a full guard of honour by the Ethiopian National Defense Force.
After the airport ceremony, the prime minister gestured to him to join him in a waiting SUV, while the Ethiopian leader took control of the steering wheel himself.
They arrived at the newly built Friendship Park for a private dinner also attended by the President of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde, and the President of Senegal, Macky Sall.
The president is in the East African country to attend the inauguration of Zewde for another five-year term in office.
While there, the president is expected to deliver a goodwill message at the inauguration event scheduled to hold at the historic Meskel Square.
President Buhari will join other African leaders, who will attend the event in person, including the Presidents of Djibouti, Kenya, South Sudan, Senegal, Somalia, Uganda and the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He will also attend a State Dinner at the National Defence Headquarters, Addis Ababa.
Speaking on the significance of President Buhari’s visit to the country, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, Victor Adeleke, praised the cordial relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia.
He told correspondents: ‘‘Nigeria and Ethiopia enjoy warm cordial relations, they are equally the two largest democracies in Africa, in this wise, the attendance of President Buhari at the inauguration ceremony of Prime Minister Ahmed is an indication of the President’s commitment to strengthening democracy in Africa.’’
The Ambassador, who holds concurrent accreditation to Djibouti and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), explained that the visit would also afford President Buhari the opportunity to strengthen bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and Ethiopia.
He added that over the years there had been much eagerness and zeal on the part of both countries to cooperate towards positive agreements, part of which had led to the exchange of official visits at the highest level.
The Envoy further said: ‘‘You will recall that the then Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegne visited Abuja, Nigeria in July 2014 where he was guest of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
‘‘In the same vein, at the invitation of Prime Minister Ahmed, President Muhammadu Buhari undertook a State Visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February 2020.
‘‘Nigeria and Ethiopia are both working on several areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of Defence, Aviation, Science and Technology, Industry, Trade and Investment, Agriculture, Health, Youth and Sports Development, Communication, Information and media as well as extending assistance to Ethiopia through the Technical Aid Corps programme.”