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nigeria-flag27 Dec 2011- Abuja, Nigeria- No amount of threats from Western countries over same-sex law would pressure Nigeria to discard its customs and tradition, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, has said.

Since the Senate passed the the bill recommending stiff punishment for same-sex marriage, Nigeria has come under various threats of sanction from Britain and America which have voiced their opposition to the move.

However, Ashiru said in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja that Nigeria would not be moved, as the country would do all that was necessary to defend its national interest, adding that if the National Assembly's move was not in the interest of Nigerians, there would have been  internal opposition to it.

He said the law that was in the making in Nigeria was for Nigerians and had nothing to do with foreign countries, who, he said, also had the right to enact laws to protect their interests without interference from other countries.

According to him, “the country has the right to legislate on its national interest. They have the right to do it in their countries and nobody will worry just as we have the right to do what conforms with our values.”

While maintaining that Nigeria was a democracy, he added that, “it is against our culture to have same-sex marriage. Even animals recognise difference in sexes.”

Ashiru remarked that since the bill has not been passed by the House of Representatives, the Western interests could talk to the lower chamber of the National Assembly not to accept it but he added that if the countries insisted on imposing sanctions on Nigeria, the nation had enough resources to care for itself.

He said: “I don't see people demonstrating against the law because they know the culture is alien to us. This is democracy. The law has only been passed by the Senate. It will go through the same process in the House of Representatives. If they don't want it to pass, they can talk to the House of Representatives.

“All these threats and sanctions, if we manage the resources we have, we will be fine,” he declared.

On the ongoing move by the Federal Government to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry and the Western countries' disposition to it, the Foreign Affairs Minister noted that the countries understood Nigeria's position since they already run deregulated economies, saying, “other countries are already deregulating. They will just watch to see how we implement it.”

Contrary to fears that the removal of subsidy would lead to astronomical cost in transportation, he assured Nigerians that since trucks and large buses were already running on diesel, which had since been deregulated, there was not likely to be too much increase in transport cost when PMS was deregulated.

However, he added that any increase that would arise from the initiative would be temporary.

By Leon Usigbe