The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has noted that the relationship between his country and Nigeria was anchored on mutual respect, solidarity and understanding.
Ramaphosa also said that without Nigeria, South Africa’s freedom would come at a much greater cost.
The President said South Africa will never forget the great debt it owe Nigeria and will never allow the lawless actions of a few to undermine the bonds of friendship between people of the two nations.
He spoke on Friday at the State banquet during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
Addressing the Nigerian leader, Ramaphosa said, “It is a great honour to warmly welcome you to our country for the first time following your re-election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Our relationship is anchored on mutual respect, solidarity and understanding.
“It was forged in a common struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
“It is also informed by the need to overcome our common challenge: poverty and underdevelopment.
“Mr. President, your visit to South Africa takes place shortly after the commencement of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“We congratulate you on your election as the President of the Assembly and we are pleased to have you, from the brotherly country of Nigeria, presiding over the Assembly as it prepares for its 75th Anniversary.
“I assure you of South Africa’s full support in the implementation of your priorities and responsibilities in your term.
“We continue to share a common vision on the need to reform multilateral institutions to reflect the realities of the changed and changing global environment.
“For us to achieve what the founders of this organisation sought to do, the creation of a peaceful world, where human rights are protected and its people free of want, we must use this opportunity to work collectively to address our common challenges.
“The significant role that your country has played in multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement cannot be overemphasised.
“Your country has contributed to UN peacekeeping responsibilities all over the world and under your leadership a peaceful return of a democratically-elected government in the Gambia was negotiated.
“Our countries must continue to participate in promoting a peace and security agenda for the continent.
“In this respect, we require African solutions to African problems.
“Mr President, Africa is confronted with numerous challenges.
“These challenges include conflict, insecurity, migration, underdevelopment, poverty, corruption and poor governance.
“I believe that we can only overcome these challenges if we work as a united front.
“We have at our disposal an abundance of natural and human resources that can be developed and harnessed to put Africa on a path of sustainable economic development.
“Africa has to embrace and participate meaningfully in the Fourth Industrial Revolution to develop our human capital and to beneficiate our natural resources.
“While we support initiatives to attract foreign direct investment to our shores, we must do more to promote intra-Africa trade and investment.
“As South Africa, we firmly support the African Continental Free Trade Area and believe that through this important instrument we can work together in accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market.
“Your Excellency, We owe our freedom to the people of Nigeria and the people of Africa.
“We pay tribute to Nigeria’s tireless support for the international campaign against apartheid.
“We will not forget how Nigeria spearheaded the call for political and economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa following the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960, which left many unarmed demonstrators dead.
“We will not forget the great sacrifices made by the Nigerian people in the 1970s and 1980s for the freedom that South Africans enjoy today.
“Without Nigerian support, our freedom would have come at a much greater cost.
“We will never forget the great debt we owe you and we will never allow the lawless actions of a few to undermine the bonds of friendship between our peoples.
“Today, in that spirit of solidarity, we reaffirmed the strategic bilateral relations between our two countries.
“We further committed ourselves to working together to enhance close political, economic and social cooperation in keeping with our mutual desire to establish a special relationship between the two countries.
“To concretise this, we have today inaugurated the first session of the Bi-national Commission presided over at Heads of State level, again symbolising the cordial and time-tested relations and the high esteem with which we regard our bilateral relations.
“Your Excellency, Once again, thank you for honouring us with your presence.
“May you and the people of Nigeria have good health and prosperity.”
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