Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday hosted his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa in Abuja, where they witnessed the signing of a new Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.
The two leaders called for a stronger emphasis on people-to-people relations between South Africa and Nigeria.
The MoU covers diverse areas, including youth development, women and child empowerment and political consultations; critical areas that will lead to increased people-to people-contact.
They also reviewed the existing MoUs on military cooperation, power, cooperation in the field of geology, mining, and mineral processing, oil and gas among others.
The leaders also jointly launched the Nigeria-South Africa Youth Dialogue, another veritable tool for interaction among the youth with the aim of creating shared values and aspirations.
President 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 their people.
He added that 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).
President Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to improving a “special relationship’’ with South Africa, which he said will translate into gains for the continent, particularly in education, science, trade and investment, tourism and security.
The Presidents later addressed a joint press conference where 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 its 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.
The visit to Nigeria forms part of President Ramaphosa’s four-nation visit which includes the republics of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal.