The Honorary Consul-designate of the Republic of Malta in Nigeria, Prof. Chris Onalo, has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on strengthening bilateral relations and shared interests between both countries as members of the Commonwealth nations.
Onalo made the call to express Malta’s readiness to cement ties with Nigeria and also felicitate with the country on its 58th independence anniversary.
According to the professor of credit management, there have been some strains in the ties owing to stalemate in the approval of his appointment as the honorary consul two years on.
Nigeria had in 2015 gained a diplomatic triumph when Buhari embarked on a one-week trip to Valletta, the capital of Malta for the biennial meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM).
The Commonwealth is an association of former British colonies of which Nigeria is one alongside 52 countries.
At the end of the Malta meeting, Buhari was selected to speak on behalf of the African countries present.
This development and recognition of Nigeria’s rising diplomatic profile, led to the opening of talks with the Maltese government to utilize the foreign direct investment that would flow into Nigeria.
Some months after in 2016, the Maltese government appointed Onalo as its representative in Nigeria to build on the new ties with a request sent to the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for security clearance before the appointment would be approved.
But two years after, the appointment is yet to sail through due to the denial of approval, which The Guardian gathered emanated from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
This has stalled the growing relationship between both countries with Nigeria losing to the breakdown in diplomatic relations
The Guardian checks revealed that a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated December 8, 2016 to the NSA returned a negative response.
According to a source, the NSA would have to present a favourable response that would activate the ministry communication with Malta for approval.