Nigeria: South Africa President Expected in Nigeria Today

President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to hold bilateral talks with South African President Jacob Zuma, who will today visit Nigeria on a one day diplomatic visit.

South Africa's International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim told journalists in Pretoria early last week that regional developments would be prominent in Zuma's consultations but that official discussions would primarily focus on strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. Attention will also be given to regional, continental and multilateral issues, he said.

Mr Zuma will meet President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja and then host him next month during a state visit to South Africa, the Department of International Relations said.

The deputy minister said a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding are expected to be signed during the state visit.

Nigeria represents a significant export market for South African goods in West Africa. Nigerians feel since the end of apartheid that South African leaders have never really shown much appreciation to them for their anti-apartheid stance that led to South Africa's independence.

This was much exposed by the country's legendary freedom fighter Winnie Mandela who publicly declared at an official function in Abuja in 2010 that her country men owed much apology to Nigeria for being so unthankful. Nigeria and South Africa have stood on opposite sides on various issues, but Nigerian leaders have maintained that the country is not contesting the leadership of Africa with anyone. For instance, the election of the chair person of the African Union Commission was stalemated last year because of diverse interests of the two countries.

Relations between the two countries were closer during the presidencies of Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo. The tense relations came to a head in July 2011 when South Africa deported over 100 Nigerians from the Johannesburg international airport over yellow fever vaccine cards, prompting a diplomatic spat that was quickly resolved with an apology from South Africa. However, since then, fence mending efforts have been on going, especially when a South African High Court recently jailed Nigerian national and South African resident Henry Okah over Nigeria's independence day bombing in Abuja which killed several people


Daily Trust Newspaper (Nigeria)