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Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, and his wife, Patience, were honoured in Cote d'Ivoire on Friday, presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said in a statement.
Mr. Jonathan was conferred with the 'Grand Cross of the Order of the Nation,' the highest honour in Cote d'Ivoire, by the Ivorian President, Alassane Ouattara, late on Friday in Abidjan. The award was in appreciation of Nigeria's contributions to peace, stability and progress in the West African country.
President Ouattara also conferred the honour of Commander of the Order of the Nation on Nigeria's First Lady, Patience Jonathan, at a State Banquet in the Ivorian seat of government.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Jonathan, who began a state visit to the country on Friday, said that Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire must continue to strengthen their bilateral cooperation for the benefit of their citizens and others in the West African sub-region.
"As partners, driven by shared values and a common strategic objective, namely, the security, stability and prosperity of our sub-region, we must continue to build on the historical bond of friendship and solidarity which have served our two countries very well in the past. My challenge - and also President Ouattara's challenge - is to intensify this partnership for the benefit of our citizens and the entire sub-region of West Africa.
"I believe that the future of our countries lies in consolidating our relationships in all spheres of human endeavour but most especially in the areas of democratisation and good governance, promotion of human rights, poverty eradication and development.
"Going forward, our countries must build on the efforts of our past leaders to foster a climate of peace and security in our sub-region. Without these collective efforts, our hopes and our aspiration of improving the living conditions of our peoples would be imperiled. We must fight poverty collectively through pooling of our resources, value-addition, intra-regional trade and promotion of investments," the Nigerian president said.
He thanked Mr. Ouattara and the people of Cote d'Ivoire for the special honours conferred on him and the First Lady.
"We will cherish and treasure them for the rest of our lives," he said. "As a true friend of Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria will always be on your side to share the joys and pains of friendship, in good times as well as in bad times. We stood, shoulder to shoulder, with you all the way during some of the darkest periods of your recent history."
"Now that your beautiful country has turned the bend, there is even more incentive for us in Nigeria to work with the government of President Ouattara and with the people of Cote d'Ivoire to build on the progress you have worked hard to achieve in the last few years," Mr. Jonathan added.