President Muhammadu Buhari has canvassed stronger people-to-people relations between South Africa and Nigeria to evolve a bond that will be of benefit to both countries and the entire African continent.
President Buhari, stated this when he hosted President Cyril Ramaphosa, at the State House yesterday in Abuja.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to improving a “special relationship’’ with South Africa, which will 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, 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.”
Buhari stressed that a strong bond of brotherhood between Nigeria and South Africa will greatly benefit Africa as a catalyst for economic, technological, social and cultural development and as a force for peace and security on the continent.
Adding: “Let me at this point re-iterate my commitment to ensure that the special relationship between our two countries is continually strengthened.’’
The Nigerian president 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, Buhari expressed delight at its successful conclusion. He said it was “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.”
Buhari commended the South African leader for initiating the Nigeria – South Africa Youth Dialogue which he (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.
Buhari and Ramaphosa also launched the Nigeria-South Africa Youth Dialogue for Peace and Security, Youth Development and Political Participation.
Speaking to the youths virtually, Buhari expressed optimism that the establishment of the Youth Dialogue would promote peace-building and development as well as help both countries jointly combat youth restiveness.
The Nigerian leader also noted that the dialogue would afford both countries to strategically develop ”a vast world of collaboration in areas of science and technology,” including climate change, energy demands, green technology, artificial intelligence, cyber security, telematics, agriculture, technology and much more.
“Nigeria and South Africa have a combined population of about 262 million of which 95 million are youth.
”This represents tremendous potential for both countries if we can truly harness this demographic with more dedicated action.
”This sizable youth population may also represent significant problems if we fail to maximize their potential in a world that globalization and technology are reshaping at breakneck speed.
”These are the rationale for proposing this Youth Dialogue.
”Both countries need more educated youth, more skilled youth, more youth in entrepreneurship, more solution providers and peace-keepers and more patriotic youth.
”It is true that our youth already collaborate especially in the creative arts, sharing our rich cultures.
”We will build upon this especially in the framework of the intra African trade expansion we intend to promote through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement,” he said.
The president added that strategic and committed collaborations in science, technology and other areas would provide both countries with solutions and critical intellectual property to unleash economic outcomes for millions of job creations.
”I must urge our youth to see themselves as brothers and sisters with a lot to share and explore together, not as foes.
”Even when Bafana Bafana and the Super Eagles compete, it must be as friendly rivals,’’ Buhari declared.
He described the inauguration of the steering committee on the Youth Dialogue during the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission as a great leap forward.
”It will aim to jointly combat the restiveness of our youth, exchange ideas/opportunities and reduce friction amongst them,’’ he said.
According to the president, the areas of cooperation under the Youth Dialogue would include exchange programmes on notable national, international and historic events; National Youth Service initiatives; sharing of best practices on national youth legislation, policy frameworks and guidelines as well as youth entrepreneurial development and support.
Other areas of cooperation are market development and export marketing for youth; partnership in youth development in the following sectors: mineral resources, environment, forests and woodlands and waste management value chains, he said.
From the agreement establishing the Youth Dialogue, exchange of information on technologies, research and development programmes and experts as well as providing assistance in the areas of accessibility, availability and affordability of mobility aids featured prominently:
The steering committee is expected to come up with the road map for the actualisation of the Youth Dialogue.
Also yesterday, Buhari described the state visit of South African President Cryil Ramaphosa as successful despite the scare generated by the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.
At a joint press conference with Ramaphosa, Buhari said new Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between Nigeria and South Africa in diverse areas were signed while existing ones were reviewed for the progress and prosperity of citizens of both countries.
”We have now come to the end of a very successful State Visit and the 10th Session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission.
”Despite the scare generated by the new COVID-19 variant, we have been able to hold successful meetings, while observing strict COVID-19 protocols, through fraternal cooperation and understanding.
”I sincerely wish to thank my brother and colleague, President Cyril Ramaphosa for honouring my invitation. I equally wish to thank members of the South African delegation and the experts that worked tirelessly during the Senior Officials Meeting.
”Today, has witnessed the signing of new Memoranda of Understanding between Nigeria and South Africa in diverse areas including Youth Development, Women and Child Empowerment and Political Consultations; critical areas that will lead to increased people to people contact.
”Also, existing MoUs signed during previous Bi-National Commission meetings were also reviewed. These include MoUs on Military Cooperation, Power, Cooperation in the field of Geology, Mining, and Mineral Processing, Oil and Gas and several others.
”Today, we also jointly launched the Nigeria-South Africa Youth Dialogue, another veritable tool for interaction among our youth with the aim of creating shared values and aspiration. Many of our youth, from Nigeria and South Africa joined us virtually during the launch,” he said.
Buhari thanked his colleague for initiating the Youth Dialogue, noting that continuous interaction between the youth of the two countries will further break down barriers and suspicion among our people.
He said the inauguration of the Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Industry, Trade and Investment, would enable the private sectors of the two largest economies in Africa to further promote economic cooperation and development.
”We appreciate that we need to do much more to achieve further integration of our two economies and take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
”Once again, I wish to thank my brother President and members of the South African delegation for their visit and their wonderful friendship, cooperation and solidarity, ” he said.
President Ramaphosa thanked the leaders of Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal for expressing their dissatisfaction with the travel ban imposed on South Africa and sister neighbouring countries in the aftermath of the discovery of the Omicron COVID-19 variant by South African scientists.
He described the imposition of the ban by some western countries as arbitrary, discriminatory, unscientific and unproductive in the long run.
”This is a global pandemic and overcoming it requires that we collaborate and work together as a collective.
”The resulting damage to this travel ban to the economies of the countries affected will be considerable and long lasting.
”So, I want to use this opportunity to tell the countries that have imposed this ban to reverse their decisions whether they are the northern more developed economies or in other parts of our continent or elsewhere,” he said.