Mr Abdul-Malik Ahmed, Nigeria Consul-General in Johannesburg, has stressed the need for strategic engagement to strengthen Nigeria-South Africa diplomatic relations.
Ahmed said this on Sunday while addressing the Nigerian community with the aim of assessing their activities in the country.
The consul-general, who assumed office in November, 2020, commended Nigeria-South Africa diplomatic relations, while observing that it had been cordial between the two economic giants on the Africa continent.
According to him, since 1995, both countries have jointly played key role towards the realisation of the African renaissance and liberation of the continent from neo-colonialism.
“A testimony to the relations between both countries is the presence of over 120 South African multinational companies in Nigeria and a sizeable number of Nigerians in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) sector.
“The contributions of Nigerian professionals in various spheres to the social and economic life of South Africa are also significant and South Africa is currently among the top-10 investors in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is South Africa’s 10th biggest export market in Africa and 32nd globally, that accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade with West Africa.
“Nigeria is also amongst its top three sources of crude oil, whereas the economic relationship is a win-win situation for both economies, the balance of trade relations is actually in favour of South Africa.
“It is, therefore, imperative that steps be taken to consolidate the diplomatic ties between the two countries and to nip in the bud, any irritants to this partnership,” Ahmed said.
He expressed hope in the African Continental Free Trade Area providing tariff-free access to a market of over 1.3 billion people and providing a platform to further deepen economic relations between Nigeria and South Africa.
The envoy promised to put measures in place, not just to deepen bilateral relations between the two countries, but also tackle issues that pertain to the welfare of the Nigerian community in South Africa.
He disclosed that a joint consultative committee, comprising the Mission, the Police and the Nigerian community, had been established as a follow-up to creating an early warning system to prevent xenophobic attacks.
In his remarks, Mr Benjamin Okoli, President General of Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA), expressed appreciation for the initiative, saying it was apt in tackling issues that touched on the well-being of Nigerians.
He described the awareness meeting with the Consul-General as necessary in the light of recent developments intended by the sponsors to distort facts and push an ugly narrative that would bring our Consulate and the Consul General to disrepute.
“This awareness campaign became absolutely necessary for us to sit together under one roof to hear the facts of the matter from the Consul-General.
“We are concerned over the allegations, personal attacks, abuse and pained comments aimed at the Consul-General and the office he represents.
“NICASA considered it very important to clarify some matters as it concerned the above situation, which in our opinion is unwarranted, unfounded and baseless,” Okoli said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian community in South Africa is 70, 000-member strong, under the auspices of several myriad organisations, that include the Nigerian Doctors Forum, Nigerian Citizens Association, as well as Association of Nigerian Nurses.NAN