The Nigerian government has reassured the Republic of South Africa that it will continue to strengthen bilateral ties between both countries for the mutual benefit of both country’s citizens and economies.

Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said this on Monday at the closing of the Ministerial Meeting of the 10th Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission in Abuja. Onyeama said that he was optimistic that the just-concluded meeting would facilitate the implementation of all signed MoUs/Agreements between the two countries.

He noted that during the meeting, senior officials of both countries deliberated extensively on a number of important issues related to bilateral relations between both countries. He said both countries had a productive exchange of views, given the unique nature of the forum which brought together, a cross-section of the key stakeholders dealing with the issues from a variety of perspectives.

“I look forward to the implementation stage of all signed MoUs/agreements between the two countries. While the formal part of this meeting ends today, I hope that this visit will add some practical insight to the discussions you have had. I wish to reassure that Nigerian Government will continue to work with South African Government towards advancing the cooperation between the two countries for the benefit of our citizens,” Onyeama said.

Onyeama said that Nigeria and South Africa “have enjoyed cordial relations over the years, underpinned by fraternity and a shared historical struggle”. He added that in spite of the challenges posed by the Coronavirus and the many resultant restrictions it imposed on both countries, Nigeria and South Africa had, through determined effort, actualised the target of hosting the bi-national commission “at this time”.

“This is testimony to our common commitment to continually improve our relations and consolidate every gain made in this regard. It is, therefore, with gratitude that I warmly welcome you. Your presence, notwithstanding the hindrances, testifies to the importance South Africa attaches to the opportunities for mutual benefit that the Bi-National Commission provides.

“As well as the opportunity to strengthen cooperation and synergy between our two countries in all areas of mutual interest,” Onyeama said. Dr Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation expressed appreciation over the continuous commitment to African solidarity shown by Nigeria towards South Africa.

Pandor said that the actions from Nigeria “is a reflection of its well-known solidarity in difficult times of the anti-apartheid struggle. Today we also mark the celebration of the 22nd anniversary of our Bi-National Commission, a great milestone in the history of our diplomatic relations. Our visit is intended to affirm South Africa’s commitment to strengthening and fostering greater collaboration and cooperation in bilateral and multilateral relations to address our common challenges for mutual benefit.”

“Nigeria and South Africa are critical to Africa’s development and progress and must use their attributes to advance Africa’s cause,” Pandor said. It is through our resolute commitment to our bilateral cooperation and the implementation of the developmental aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals that we can change the lives of our people,” he added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Agreements to be ratified by both countries include Early Warning Mechanism, Agreement on Arts and Culture, Agreement on Youth Development, Agreement on Immigration, among others.

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