By Timothy Choji Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa, called on the South African government to open up its economy for more Nigerian businesses, while guaranteeing their safety, stressing the need for reciprocity in promoting trade and investments between both countries.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the 9th Bi-National Commission at the seat of government, Union Building, President Buhari said South African companies had enjoyed unfettered access to Nigerian market, and protection with enabling laws, urging the government to design policies that favour investments from Nigeria.
The President had co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Bi-National Commission at the level of heads of state.
“We are pleased to inform you that our Government has made doing business in Nigeria easier through the ease of Doing Business Initiative to open up more opportunities for investors in Nigeria.
“We call on the Government of South Africa to also take steps to ease the doing of business in the country, and open up its market space for Nigerian businessmen and women.
“In this context, we are gratified that a Nigeria-South Africa Business Forum has been organized in the frame work of this State visit,’’ the President said.
President Buhari said Nigeria would continue to value its relationship with South Africa, which is the second largest economy in Africa, noting that 32 agreements and MoUs had been signed between both countries.
“We, in Nigeria, value the warm fraternal relations binding our two countries and cherish our Special Relationship. We consider South Africa an ally and a strategic partner.
“We need to implement those that have come into force, as well as to expedite necessary action to ratify the seven outstanding agreements that have not yet been brought into force.
“I welcome the robust Defence Cooperation between Nigeria and South Africa, and call for more support and solidarity with us in our fight against terrorism and violent extremism. We also welcome the increased collaboration against arms and drug trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking,’’ he stated.
President Buhari “condemned in the strongest terms, attacks against Nigerians and other African nationals living in South Africa, the looting of their shops and businesses and burning of their properties’’.
“We call for the strengthening and implementation of all the necessary measures to prevent the re-occurrence of such action which threatens to undermine, not only our strong bilateral relations but also, what we stand for in the context of our vision for a strong and prosperous Africa we want.’’
The President also condemned the very few incidents of retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria. “I am happy to report that we took strong and decisive measures to stop the attacks and prevent any recurrence.”
The President of South Africa congratulated President Buhari for winning the 2019 Presidential elections, and starting a second term.
President Ramaphosa said the attacks on foreign nationals was regrettable, assuring that his government would do more to safeguard lives and property.
He said South Africa would always be grateful to Nigeria for the support they received during the dark days of apartheid and shall never forget the role Nigeria played in ensuring that South Africa get the freedom it is enjoying today.