South African President, Jacob Zuma, on Tuesday acknowledged that Nigeria and Nigerians indeed sacrificed for his countrymen to be freed of the clutches of apartheid.
He said particularly remarkable was a point in the history of the liberation struggles in South Africa when Nigerian civil servants voluntarily contributed part of their monthly salaries to the struggles.
Zuma, who spoke in Abuja as he addressed a joint session of the National Assembly, noted that the price Nigeria paid for the freedom of his country was not lost on his people.
He also recalled how in 1976, Nigeria established the South African Relief Fund to support his country’s students in the biting days of apartheid.
Zuma is on an official visit to Nigeria on the invitation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nigerian President had accompanied his guest to the National Assembly where the latter delivered his address.
Buhari did not utter a word at the session beyond exchanging pleasantries with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.
Zuma said he was in Nigeria to discuss how both countries could strengthen their existing bi-lateral relations and open new avenues for partnership.
The visit came at a time of frequent frictions between Nigerians living in South Africa and their South African locals, usually triggered by the xenophobia.
He acknowledged that South African business concerns had increased their presence in Nigeria to “more than 120”, up from just four in 1994.
Zuma stated that, as the two leading economies in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa could partner to improve the lot of the continent and free its people from the economic pressures coming from outside its territories.
He cited electricity generation, agriculture, aviation and solid minerals as among a whole lot of areas that the two could partner for further economic improvement.
“South-South and Inter-Africa cooperation is a way of repositioning our current economic challenges in Africa”, he added.
Zuma offered that South Africa could assist Nigeria in its bid to diversify the economy by bringing South African expertise in mining into the country’s solid minerals’ sector.
He also said the two countries must be sensitive to new technological and industrial advancement in parts of the world to “develop Africa’s economy.” Punch