REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE VISIT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, MR. JACOB ZUMA TO ADDRESS A JOINT SESSION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON TUESDAY 8TH FEBRUARY, 2016.
1. On behalf of my colleagues, Distinguished Senators and Honourable members, I warmly welcome you to Nigeria and to the National Assembly in particular.
2. Your Excellency, your visit today is symbolic. This will be the first time in the life of this 8th National Assembly that we will be honouring a visiting President with addressing a joint session of the National Assembly. It is therefore, befitting that this honour goes to you Mr. President and by extension the people of South Africa. This is a rare gesture, last invested on the former President of the United States of America, President Bill Clinton in August 2000. It is another demonstration of our friendship, solidarity and deep affection for the people of South Africa.
3. Your visit today, speaks volumes on how much your government and the great people of South Africa value and cherish the fledging bilateral relationship Nigeria has with South Africa. It is testament to our collective aspiration and recognition that we must come together, act together and grow together to forge a new African reawakening, built on our people, democracy and the rule of law.
4. The legislature is vital to our cherished democracy and freedom. South Africa’s experience and ours demonstrates the need for us to further entrench our people’s liberties and freedoms and guide jealously our democracy.
5. Your visit to this hallowed ground bears eloquent testimony of the critical importance you attach rightly to the role of the legislature as a place for deliberation, where we can through engagement settle differences, find agreements that enhances our mutual interest, development and democracy.
6. We must therefore as African leaders today forge a new path to greater African integration through the easing of trade restrictions, travel restrictions and better policy action towards inter African investment and support.
7. As representatives of our people, we cannot fail to use this opportunity to enable you feel their pulse. Though our two nations are doing well in the area of trade and investment our people have found entry into the South African market, bottlenecked. This is not the case for South African businesses in Nigeria. Nigerians therefore yearn for greater reciprocity in this area. This is also the case with travels and visa restrictions. Another area we cannot fail to emphasize is the need to activate our MOUs that have been duly signed but are inactive. It is our belief that this would be in the mutual interest for greater integration, opportunity and engagement.
8. We must find ways of enabling, positively, inter African investment through policy interventions. This is a critical policy role the legislature can help us actualize. It starts with ensuring fairness and ease of doing business. This National Assembly is already at work to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria generally.
9. Mr. President, I will not end my remark without acknowledging the vital role the South African Government has played so far in terms of our engagements in the area of security and the fight against insurgency. The Nigerian people are grateful and ask you to keep up the good work. For us, the fight against terrorism remains a global one. Terrorism anywhere must continue to be seen as terrorism everywhere.
10. Your Excellency, our two countries have come a long way and this visit will help cement that. We are very delighted to have you in our midst. Please, enjoy the warm hospitality of our people wherever you may go from here.
11. Welcome to the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.