Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties excellent – Amb Bala

Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties excellent – Amb Bala


Despite being fellow members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), apart from the staggering volume of trade, though mostly informal, among their citizens; many countries in the region have no bilateral agreement.

Nigerian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, HE David G. Bala.
Interestingly, most of these West African countries attained independence more than 50 years ago. That, notwithstanding, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso, David Gambar Bala, says Abuja-Ouagadougou relations is excellent.

During an exclusive chat with mauricearchibongtravels inside his office at Embassy of Nigeria in the Burkinabe capital, His Excellency’s appraisal of Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties was: “We can describe Nigeria-Burkina Faso relations as excellent”.

Expatiating, Amb Bala added; “Since diplomatic relations were established in 1972, Nigeria and Burkina Faso have not had any cause for bad blood. Comparatively, Nigerians are well-treated here. This could be seen in the regard for a Nigerian Embassy Consular Card in Burkina Faso. In a nutshell, Burkinabes are generally hospitable.”

Speaking further on the state of affairs between Nigeria and Burkina Faso with regard to bilateral agreements; Bala offered: “We have signed the Bilateral Agreement on Air Services (BASA). This is a great leap forward. It was because of this agreement that Arik Air, for example, was able to operate flights to Ouagadougou, until recently. They had to suspend services because of certain challenges. I believe that they will resume when the issues are sorted out”.

Amb. Bala went on to reveal that, “Nigeria and Burkina Faso are actually pushing to sign a trade agreement. To date, most of the trading between Nigerians and Burkinabe are informal. But, with formal trade agreement, more Nigerian investors are likely to come here.

“Currently, however, some Nigerian corporate giants are already taking advantage of the opportunities here. For example, UBA has since bought-in. They invested in a former ailing bank here and are now doing well. We’re truly proud of them.”

mauricearchibongtravels further gathered from Amb. Bala that one of Nigeria’s telecommunications giants, Glo; has been granted license to operate in Burkina Faso. Bala, who went on to remind that gold has been discovered in commercial quantity in Burkina, expressed optimism that some Nigerian mining companies will show interest in this industry, too.

Nigerian immigrants, issues

Across the world, countless Nigerian victims of human trafficking and prostitution abound. What is the situation in Burkina Faso? Apparently, this country is not immune.

With regard to the number of Nigerians rescued from human traffickers and other distraught ones helped to return home, Amb. Bala submitted: “We may not have the exact figure, but there have been very many, many of such incidents. The way our people move around, there’s no way some of them won’t have such problems”.

Sadly, many of the victims of human trafficking are minors, under-aged girls and boys. Bala again: “Once they are rescued and identified as bona fide Nigerians, we provide resources to ferry them home. However, the plenitude of these victims and the assistance we are compelled to render put severe strains on our resources”, Amb. Bala rued.

mauricearchibongtravels had gathered from an executive member of Nigerian Community Burkina Faso (name withheld) that an NGO (non-governmental organisation) affiliated to a Christian body with the acronym SIM, has been particularly helpful in the search and rescue of victims of human trafficking.

When we put this to Bala, he responded thus: “Yes, we are aware of their efforts. Sometimes, they even keep the girls, pending when we conclude arrangements to send them home. In fact, we have had series of meetings with them and members of the Nigerian Community in Burkina Faso on finding solution to some of the problems as they arise.

“And, usually, they have proven very helpful. The Nigerian community has also been very, very supportive. Sometimes, they even organise the repatration of trafficked persons without bothering us. We often discover their effort, when they come to the embassy for documentation, which we do gratis”.

How many Nigerian immigrants in Burkina Faso?

According to Amb. Bala, the working figure is between 60,000 and 100,000. The revered top-flight diplomat helped put things in context, when he expatiated: “However, most of them have been here for generations and they could well be taken for Burkinabes. All the same, they still identify themselves with Nigeria”.

As regards Nigerians doing time in Burkinabe’s jailhouses, Amb. Bala had this to say: “We don’t have the exact figure of Nigerians in Burkinabe jails. I’ve been told that few Nigerians are among foreigners inside prisons in this country.

However, we’re not sure what the true situation is. This is the reason we intend to start an audit of Nigerians in prisons across this country, very soon”.

History of Nigeria-Burkina Faso ties

Taking us down Memory Lane, regarding the genesis of diplomatic ties between Nigeria and Burkina Faso and our premier envoy there; Amb. Bala recalled: “Diplomatic relation between Nigeria and Burkina Faso was established in 1972”.

This much-loved envoy went on to add: “In 1973, Nigerian Embassy was opened under the concurrent accreditation of Nigeria’s Ambassador in Niamey, Niger Republic. Subsequently, the Mission was headed by a Charge d’Affaires until 1992, when Ambassador Umar Babbaji Misau was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso with residency in Ouagadougou. He served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso from 1992 to 1999.”

Amb. Bala, up close

At the human level, Amb. Bala is not just an affable and genial person. Without a doubt, serious training, priming, diligence and perspicacity propelled this top-flight diplomat to his exalted position of Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso.

Through dedication and determination, this son of Mr. Bala Mbidur Gambar and Hannatu Bala, both now deceased indigenes of Gambar Lere in Bogoro Local Government Area (LGA) of Bauchi State, has come a long way since 1984; when, after training at Nigeria’s Foreign Service Academy, he effectively became an officer of Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

A few months after he clocked 28 years on MFA staff, Bala was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso. HE David Bala thus succeeded Amb. Mark Bassey Egbe, who served there from 2008 to 2012.

Since he eventually presented his letter of credence to President Blaise Compaore of the former Upper Volta on 8 November, 2012; one could say that Amb. Bala formally assumed duty in Ouagadougou on that day; even though he had reported at the post many weeks earlier.

So, how many foreign posts has he served at, in 28 years as Nigeria’s Foreign Service functionary? “This is my fifth foreign posting”, Amb. Bala mused. Before his posting to Ouagadougou, Amb. Bala’s latest foreign assignment was as Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Nigeria in Tel Aviv, Israel. That was in 2010.

Career trajectory of this revered envoy

Prior to working in Israel, Bala had served in the United Kingdom (UK), China and Central African Republic (CAR). Affable and perspicacious, Amb. Bala easily recalled that his first posting, after the compulsory year-long training at the Foreign Service Academy; was to the European Affairs Department.

He had garnered additional experience from working in the Asia and Pacific Department before his first international posting, which took him to Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) in 1986. Interestingly, Bala’s appointment as President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s envoy to Burkina Faso on 12 June, 2012; came barely four months before 4 October, 2012; his 54th birthday.

Also, this alumnus of University of Maiduguri, who took his B.Sc degree in Political Science/Administrative Studies in 1981 consequently assumed duty full-force as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso a few months to 2 February, 2013; the Silver Jubilee of his wedding. He is married to Mrs. Hauwa Bala and the union is blessed with four children, Salma, Musa, Ishaku and Hannatu.


It is said that, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Expectedly, Bala must have things he does for recreation. What are your hobbies? We asked him: “My number one hobby is to watch sports, football in particular, on TV. Reading also helps me to unwind,” he concluded.

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