By Fortune Abang
Abuja, Nov. 6, 2020 Mr Thamsanqa Mseleku, the High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, says his country is committed to deepening media relations with Nigeria through institutions, such as Naija247news.
Mseleku said this while receiving Mr Buki Ponle, the Managing Director of NAN, who was on a courtesy visit to the South Africa High Commission in Abuja on Friday.
He described the move to strengthen media relations between South Africa and Nigeria as timely and promised to do everything within the ambit of the mission to achieve results.
According to him, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SBAC) is undergoing restructuring, especially as government or private owned media agencies do not have adequate funding, therefore search for other mechanisms.
Mseleku said, “We are very keen as a mission to improve people-to-people relations and the media is very central to achieving that.
“Through such means, people can be exposed to understand one another and who they are; which is one area that we have been trying to have conversations with our government and Nigeria.
“South Africans need to begin to see voices of true Nigerians, such that Nigerians are not misunderstood, because there are a lot of real Nigerians, but a silent majority.
“The perception given is that Nigeria is what you see in the street selling drugs, human trafficking, yet Nigerians in South Africa comprise whole range of very skilled and dedicated people.
“From nuclear Physicists, Mathematicians and Doctors, but they are not visible, except to their students and not the public, so we need to create platforms to deepen media relations.”
He reiterated that the collaboration between South Africa and Nigeria in terms of media relations has become imperative to promote value exchange and knowledge sharing.
He explained collaboration between South African and Nigerian artistes to showcase oneness at their various levels, but decried the fact that such was not published on relevant media platforms.
“When you see stories on social media that are anti-Nigeria sentiment, South African artistes respond and get negative publication, because there is no adequate room for information exchange to counter such.
“There is a lot of work to do; the media is a very important platform for disseminating information about both countries to ensure we benefit from each other in various ways,” he added.
Earlier, Ponle had said his visit was to further deepen relations between NAN and the commission.
He said Naija247news at inception had established 10 outstations, including one in South Africa, but was left with three offices due to paucity of funds, which affected their operations.
He said that Naija247news had established cooperation with South Africa and therefore, underscored the need for partnership with the commission to increase visibility between the two countries via the media.
According to him, plans have been put in place to renew operations of NAN outstation in South Africa, in 2021.
“We are trying to change the narrative and perception, and to ensure that we put to the barest minimum issues of hate speech and fake news.
“When we deepen media relations and project it as it is, about Nigerians in South Africa and South Africans in Nigeria, the whole thing will change for good.
“What we have as differences about one another will just dissolve, when they see the whole thing published and being watched by millions of viewers.
“This is the essence of our exchange programme and that is what we have been doing and will continue to do,” Ponle said.
He, however, identified SMS mobile service, PR-wire and NAN forum, as a high profile platforms for captains of industry, diplomatic missions and heads of ministries, departments and agencies, which Naija247news provides.
Naija247news reports that the high point of the visit was the exchange of gifts between Ponle and Mseleku.