Opening remarks by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe during the South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National
23 May 2012
Your Excellency, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammed Namadi Sambo;
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Your Excellencies, High Commissioners of the Republic of South Africa and the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Senior Officials;
Ladies and gentlemen:
Your Excellency and your delegation let me start by welcoming you to South Africa on this auspicious occasion of the eighth Session of South Africa–Nigeria Bi–National Commission (BNC).
Your presence today is a testament of your commitment to the improvement of relations between our two nations.
Frankly, I am of the view that both of our nations have until now been short-changing themselves to the extent that the current state of our relations is not a true reflection of our historical relationship.
As such this failure to live up to the true potential of our relationship has been robbing both of our countries of the maximum benefits they could have reaped from our optimal relations.
It follows that both of us need a heart-to-heart talk inspired by the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood as Africans with a shared destiny, so that we surface home truths as a prerequisite to clear up any irritants that may be currently serving as a wedge between us.
I believe, Your Excellency, that only through frank and honest discussion are we assured of the possibility to improve our relations to their full potential for the benefit our people.
At the moment our relations can at best be described as normal, when as indicated above, they can reach excellent levels, as they ought to be.
In this regard, it is worth noting that strong relations between South Africa and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are not only in the interests of both of our countries but that of our continent as well.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,
We gather here this morning to review the work and progress of our bilateral cooperation since the seventh session of South Africa – Nigeria Bi-National Commission, which was held on 21 to 23 May 2008 in Abuja, Nigeria.
In the light of the concern expressed above, we believe that this session of the BNC will and should further strengthen the cordial and fraternal relations between our two countries.
I am informed that Ministers and Senior Officials from our respective countries have met on 21 and 22 May 2012, to take stock of what has been achieved.
As a way forward we should consider the Implementation Plan that will ensure that the decisions taken over the past two days, as well as at the previous Bi-National Commissions, are implemented.
We would like to co-operate closely in continental and international forums, working together towards the shared objectives of a better Africa and a better world.
It is given, Your Excellency, that we have a common objective of developing our continent so that as Africans we can take our rightful position in the world.
Further, we share a common commitment to New Partnership for Africa's Development as the African Union’s principal instrument for addressing many developmental challenges on our continent, including the development of infrastructure.
We need to recommit ourselves to work together as nations and as Regional Economic Communities to share our experiences so that we can find solutions to the eradication of poverty, the creation of jobs, investing in education, political and sustainable economic stability.
In conclusion, we look forward to the exchange of ideas that will be of great assistance to strengthen political, cultural and economic relations between our two countries.
Nigeria is South Africa’s strategic partner on the African continent and accordingly, I wish to re-emphasise that it is in both our peoples’ interests that we take our relationship to a higher level, where it ought to be.
In other words, this Bi-National Commission ought to be a turning point whereby we irreversibly recast our relations to reflect the need for both of our nations to work closer, communicate intimately and more frequently as well as move with speed towards the implementation of all our agreements.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
23 May 2012
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