By Fortune Abang
Abuja, Sept. 30, 2020 South Africa has congratulated Nigeria on the 60th anniversary of its independence and applauded its contribution to peace in the continent.
Mr Thamsanqa Mseleku, High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, who acknowledged Nigeria’s contributions, extolled its leading role as a major stabilising factor in West Africa.
“The government and people of South Africa, congratulate Nigeria and wish the country continued peace and prosperity.
“Since its independence, Nigeria has continued to play an important role in the continent’s effort to unite the countries and peoples of Africa, and contribute to economic development of the continent.
“Nigeria’s commitment to African Unity and solidarity is something that South Africans experienced first-hand during the struggle against apartheid, when the country hosted the Liberation Movements.
“Some of the leaders of the movements even travelled using Nigerian passports to various countries to advance the struggle for freedom in their own country.
“Nigerian people, especially university students, often participated in various activities aimed at exposing the atrocities of the Apartheid regime, and called for an end to racial oppression in South Africa.
“Nigeria contributed to ensuring peace in Africa since its independence.
“From the days of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) it readily contributed its troops to peacekeeping forces in different hotspots in Africa,” he said.
On democracy and bilateral relations, he noted that Nigeria had in recent years, been exemplary in terms of ensuring that the change of government was achieved through democratic means.
He observed that democratic elections had taken place at the end of the term of office of each government in the continent in recent years.
“Similarly, outgoing presidents of African countries have handed over power in line with the wishes of the people through the ballot box.
“This has raised stakes for many African governments, as Nigeria is a very important and influential country in Africa.
“Bilateral relations between South Africa and Nigeria have been very good.
“Nigeria was among the first countries to open an embassy in South Africa after years of boycotting Apartheid in South Africa.
“Since then, both countries have enjoyed warm and close relations and at different times, provided leadership on continental issues, such as the establishment of NEPAD and the Peer Review Mechanism,” he added.
He said that the two countries had championed the cause for the establishment of African Unity and were also joint representatives of the Voice of Africa at world platforms.
He reiterated that Nigeria had been an able representative of Africa’s aspirations, and had projected it’s vision for a reformed United Nations.
On the economic front, he said that Nigeria steadily developed its economy to become the biggest in Africa, adding that it had been at the forefront of efforts to develop intra-Africa trade.
“In fact, success of the newly established Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement depends largely on Nigeria’s participation and leadership, side by side with South Africa and the rest of the continent.
“This 60th anniversary, therefore, comes at a time when Nigeria is recognised as a key actor in African and world politics.
“The continent looks to countries like Nigeria, to make a meaningful contribution to the attainment of its vision of a united, peaceful, democratic, and developed continent by 2063,” he said.
He noted that both countries workéd closely to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying that South Africa would continue to rely on Nigeria to advance multilateral efforts to “silence the guns”.