South Africa has congratulated the government and people of Nigeria on the 60th anniversary of independence, commending her contribution to ensure peace in the continent.
Mr Thamsanqa Mseleku, High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, extolled Nigeria’s leading role in peacekeeping.
He said Nigeria is a major stabilising factor in West Africa.
“The government and the people of South Africa, congratulates Nigeria and wish the country continued peace and prosperity.
“Since its independence, Nigeria has continued to play an important role in the continental effort to unite the countries and peoples of the continent, and contribute to economic development of Africa.
“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 under 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 at calling 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 for African Unity (OAU) it readily contributed its troops to Peacekeeping Forces in different hot spots 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 also mentioned that the two countries had championed the cause for the establishment of African Unity and were also jointly representatives of the Voice of Africa at world platforms.
He reiterated that Nigeria had been an able representative of Africa’s aspirations, including its vision of a reformed United Nations.
On the economic front, he said that Nigeria steadily developed its economy into 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 also said.
He, however, revealed that both countries partnered on fighting COVID-19 epidemic while chairing the African Union, saying South Africa would continue to rely on Nigeria to advance collective efforts to silence the guns.