Zuma’s visit will strengthen Nigeria, South Africa relations – Minister
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has said that President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Nigeria on Tuesday will further improve bilateral relations between Nigeria and South African.
Onyeama said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while commenting on the March 8 and March 9 visit of Zuma on Sunday in Abuja.
He expressed the hope that the South Africa leader’s visit to Nigeria would strengthen the perceived weakened relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
There is a bit of tension now in the relationship as you outlined in the questions you asked.
I hope this visit will calm the tension and will send a message to South Africans and to Nigerians that the two countries are still brother countries and have close relations.
We were at the forefront of the fight against apartheid and we were considered a frontline state, although we were not geographically on the frontline.
Showing the commitment, a lot of black South Africans were educated in Nigeria and our support was total,’’ he said.
According to him, the visit will help to remind the two countries of the existing bond between them which must be maintained and strengthened.
So, we want to remind all the South Africans and all the Nigerians that the history of our relationship taken back to the fact that we have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the South Africans throughout.
And that the bond is still a very close one that is the first message from this visit,’’ he said.
The minister noted that there were other areas that the visit would explore, which according to him, include trade, culture and technology, among others.
Onyeama stressed the need to improve on the existing trade relationship between the two countries.
We have to increase our trade, increase intra-African trade, increase commerce and look at other areas of possible investment.
Nigerian investment in South Africa and South African investment in Nigeria, there is also need to increase our cultural links and promote cultural ties between the two countries.’’
He said that the visit would be symbolic and concrete as it would bring the leaders of the two countries together to discuss issues that were of mutual benefit to their peoples.
So, really we want this to be symbolic and also concrete.
In the symbolic aspect of it, it is with the two leaders coming together, the two countries reminding us how close we are and how we support each other.
And concretely promoting all the ties, economic, cultural, technological cooperation among others,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Zuma will begin a two-day state visit to Nigeria on Tuesday, March 8.
A statement from the South African Presidency stated that during the visit, Zuma is expected to address the Joint Session of Nigeria’s Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja.
It stated that Zuma would together with President Muhammadu Buhari, address the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum.
It stated that South Africa and Nigeria had good bilateral political, economic and social relations underpinned by strong historical ties dating back to the years of the liberation struggle from apartheid rule.
The two countries conduct their bilateral relations through a structured Bi-National Commission (BNC) established in 1999 and have thus signed 34 bilateral agreements, including Memoranda of Understanding.
They are coordinated through the BNC covering a broad range of areas, including trade and investment, science and technology, immigration and consular matters, defence, agriculture, the environment, energy as well as arts and culture.
To date, there are over 120 South African companies doing business in Nigeria in various sectors, including telecommunications, aviation, tourism, banking, property, retail, entertainment and the fast food.’’ (NAN)
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