HONOURED GUEST: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar greets President of Nigeria Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on his arrival yesterday at Piarco International Airport at the start of his two-day State visit to Trinidad and Tobago for the Emancipation celebrations. A number of activities are scheduled to take place today.
THERE was a great deal of pomp and ceremony and a large contingent of Government and other officials for the arrival of Nigerian President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan yesterday.
Jonathan and his more than 80-member contingent arrived at approximately 5.30 p.m. at the South Terminal of Piarco International Airport, about 30 minutes later than scheduled.
The plane had the markings “Nigerian Air Force” and bore the seal of the President of Nigeria. The terminal stairs were removed and automatic stairs emerged from the plane itself to allow them to disembark.
Jonathan wore an all-black suit with matching hat, with an ornate gold chain. His wife, Dame Patience, wore a goldish cream outfit, with silver embellishment. The Defence Force guard of honour announced their arrival with a flourish and a 21-gun mortar salute.
They were greeted by President George Maxwell Richards and his wife, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards; Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and almost all of her Cabinet, many of them in African wear; Chief Justice Ivor Archie; House Speaker Wade Mark; Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith; High Commissioner of Nigeria to Trinidad and Tobago Musa John Jen; and other members of the diplomatic corps and other officials.
While Jonathan inspected the guard of honour, a Nigerian cameraman, reportedly from the president’s office, was physically held back from following him by a member of the Defence Force. After unsuccessful protests, the cameraman moved to the side.
Jonathan and his contingent were then taken into the airport for a 20-minute cultural show featuring the National Steel Symphony Orchestra and the Susan Mohip Dance Company. He is in the country for a two-day State visit and to attend Emancipation Day celebrations.
He has a packed itinerary today and will be leaving at 8 a.m. tomorrow, instead of 3 p.m. as had been previously announced.