1st December, 2021
By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday hosted his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, in the Presidential Villa Abuja.
Ramaphosa, who is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria, was received at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa by Buhari.
Thereafter, the two leaders went into bilateral talks behind closed doors.
There was a brief cultural display by members of the Nigerian National Troupe, who entertained Ramaphosa and his delegation.
The two presidents are expected to address a joint press conference at the end of the bilateral talks.
Nigeria is Ramaphosa’s first stop on his West African tour.
Ramaphosa and his entourage will visit Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal in the tour which will conclude on 7 December.
The trip is meant to reinforce South Africa’s bilateral relations with Nigeria and other West African nations.
Later, at a bilateral talk between Nigerian and South African officials, Buhari called for stronger emphasis on people-to-people relations between the two countries.
He said this will lead to a bond that will be of benefit to both countries and the entire African continent.
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 re-iterate my commitment to ensure that the special relationship between our two countries is continually strengthened.’’
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 added.
At the end of the Summit, President Buhari expressed his delight at its successful conclusion, calling it, “heartwarming and a source of great pride that we have been able to further cement the special bond of fraternal friendship between our two countries.”
He also remarked that the agreement on Early Warning Mechanism would “improve the people-to-people relations of our two countries. Similarly, our two countries have established high level official communication channels for diplomatic consultations, trade and investment, and will, shortly, inaugurate the Nigeria – South Africa Youth Dialogue. I am confident that these vehicles of engagement and cooperation will serve our mutual interests.”
The Nigerian President commended the South African leader for initiating the Nigeria – South Africa Youth Dialogue which he (President Buhari) also endorsed.
“I hope that beyond being a vehicle for mutual learning and understanding by our youth, it would also foster the kindred spirit of humanity towards others as prescribed in the great South African traditional philosophy of Ubuntu. That would lay a solid foundation for the realization of the Africa that we want,” he said.
President Buhari appreciated President Ramaphosa and his delegation for the visit.