ABUJA - President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Nigeria on Tuesday will further improve bilateral relations between Nigeria and South African, Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama believes.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted the minister as saying in Abuja on Sunday that Zuma’s visit would strengthen the perceived weakened relationship between the two countries.
“There is a bit of tension now in the relationship. I hope this visit will calm the tension and send a message to South Africans and to Nigerians that the two countries are still brother countries and have close relations.
We were at the forefront of the fight against apartheid and we were considered a Frontline state.
Showing the commitment, a lot of black South Africans were educated in Nigeria, and our support was total,” Onyeama said.
The minister said other areas to explore during the visit would include trade, culture and technology, among others.
He stressed the need to improve the trade relationship between the two countries.
“We have to increase our trade, intra-African trade, commerce, and look at other areas of investment. There is also a need to increase our cultural links and promote cultural ties between the two countries,” he said.
The minister explained that the visit would be symbolic and concrete, as it would bring the leaders of the two countries together to discuss issues that were of mutual benefit to their people.
“We really want this visit to be symbolic and also concrete. The symbolic aspect of it is with the two leaders coming together, the two countries reminding us how close we are and how we support each other, and concretely promoting all the ties; economic, cultural and technological co-operation, among others,” Onyeama said.
Zuma was to begin a two-day state visit to Nigeria on Tuesday.
During the visit, he will address Nigeria’s Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja. He will also, together with President Muhammadu Buhari, address the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum.
The two countries conduct their bilateral relations through a structured Bi-National Commission (BNC) established in 1999 and have signed 34 bilateral agreements, including memoranda of understanding.
They are co-ordinated through the BNC and cover a broad range of areas, including trade and investment, science and technology, defence, immigration and consular matters, agriculture, the environment, energy as well as arts and culture.