President Muhammadu Buhari has urged a stronger emphasis on people-to-people relations between South Africa and Nigeria to evolve a bond that will be of benefit to both countries and the African continent.
President Buhari stated this when he received President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa at the State House, Abuja on Wednesday, December 1.
The Nigerian leader reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to improving a “special relationship’’ with South Africa, which would translate into gains for the continent, particularly in education, science, trade and investment, tourism, and security.
At the opening of the 10th Session of Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) held in his office, President Buhari said: “Mr President, permit me to state that some of the challenges identified during the last Bi-National Commission (BNC) have not been completely addressed.
“We need to ensure that our people-to-people relations are enhanced; to a point where there would be no need for unhealthy competition.
“In this regard, we need improvement in educational and scientific cooperation; mines and energy resources; transport and aviation; tourism; youth exchange programmes; trade, and investment and military cooperation, to mention but a few.”
President Buhari told ministers and government delegates of both countries that a strong bond of brotherhood; between Nigeria and South Africa would be of great benefit to Africa; as a catalyst for economic, technological, social, and cultural development and as a force for peace and security on the continent.
“Let me at this point reiterate my commitment to ensuring that the special relationship between our two countries is continually strengthened,’’ he added.
President Buhari said it was fulfilling that despite all the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; the BNC was still holding on schedule.
“It is also gratifying to observe that this has been brought about by the dogged commitment of senior officials from our countries.
“More importantly, it is gratifying to note that despite the pandemic; our timelines for implementing some decisions of the 9th BNC have been met.
“Similarly, discussions are ongoing; on new and important areas of cooperation between our two countries.
“I must commend the Honourable Ministers and senior officials of both our governments; for their sustained effort in breathing life into the bilateral agreements between our countries.
“I am aware that the Senior Officials Meeting and Ministerial Meetings; which preceded this Presidential BNC were successfully concluded,’’ he further maintained.