8 May 2013
Nigeria and South Africa have a key role to play in bringing to realisation an African renaissance, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Addressing South Africa’s Parliament, Jonathan detailed how the Nigerian people had stood by South Africa and supported the struggle against apartheid.
He said the two countries were in a unique position to lead all of Africa to a continent free of inequality, poverty, disease and conflicts.
“South Africa and Nigeria, with our robust economies and large markets, are well placed to accelerate the emergence of this renaissance [in] Africa,” he said, adding that Nigeria’s growth rate was expected to reach 7.2% this year, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Jonathan is on a two-day state visit to South Africa – his first official visit to the country – after which he will be attending the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting starting in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Jonathan said he saw an Africa on the rise, a continent that was resilient and confident about its capacity to handle its challenges.
“All we need is to mobilise the required political will and to be relentless in our quest to achieve our collective dream,” he said.
In doing so, he called on African parliaments to insist on the respect for the rule of law and to hold governments to account.
He lauded the relationship that South Africa’s three arms – the executive, legislative and judiciary – played, adding that the country was an example worthy of emulation by other countries, where the separation of powers remained a challenge.
He said that since the release of former president Nelson Mandela from prison 23 years ago, South Africa had made steady progress.
He said Nigeria had stood by South Africa during its struggle against apartheid, pointing to the setting up of the Southern African Relief Fund, which drew funds from deductions made on the salaries of every Nigerian worker.
He said that while Nigeria provided scholarships for students from South Africa, Nigerian musicians recorded albums in support of the anti-apartheid struggle and Nigerian poets wrote literature denouncing apartheid.
“Your struggle was our struggle, your pain was our pain, and today, your freedom is our freedom,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Jonathan held talks in Cape Town with South African President Jacob Zuma, after which Nigeria and South Africa signed a raft of cooperation agreements.
The two presidents then participated in a South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum. Jonathan is being accompanied on his visit by a high-level delegation of cabinet ministers, governors of state and business leaders.