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Wed Jun 29 23:43:45 SAST 2016

Better relations with Nigeria would be in Africa's best interest

The Times Editorial | 09 March, 2016 00:44

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria are more important now than ever before.

President Jacob Zuma's visit to the West African powerhouse this week should be one of many between the two countries if Africa wants to chart a new road.

Both countries bring economic strength to the table and wield influence on the continent.

Addressing the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Zuma emphasised the need to partner in pursuit of continental integration, peace, security and development.

We believe economic co-operation and strong relations in other fields could benefit Africa and would enable us to speak with one voice when dealing with Europe and the West.

The time has come for African leaders to realise that our strengths lie in the way we relate to our neighbours.

The days of being dictated to and told what is good for Africa have gone and the wars that have inflicted pain on the continent can be traced to outside influences that still use our leaders to further their ambitions of looting.

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria are a mixed bag but we should find ways to build bridges . Businesses operating in the two countries should adopt a new business formula that is aimed at development.

Quoting the late General Murtala Mohammed of Nigeria yesterday, Zuma said: "Africa has come of age" and would "no longer accept dictates from any so-called superpower".

South Africa and Nigeria need to enter into new dialogue that is not driven by egos. We can revitalise the economies of our regions and add a voice to the factional politics that have torn this continent apart.

Nigeria held peaceful elections recently. South Africa needs such a friend to spread the message to those who hide behind dictatorships.

We call on Zuma and his government to travel more widely in Africa.

Our future lies in this continent.

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