- Nigeria can benefit from S/A energy sector, says Zuma
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday justified the N780 billion fine imposed on Mobile Telecommunications Network, MTN by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, saying the reluctance of the giant telecoms company in registering all subscriber lines within the stipulated time caused the death of no fewer than 10,000 Nigerians.
The President stated this when he played host to his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, at the State House, Abuja, adding that the action was the reason for the NCC sanction.
The NCC had asked MTN to pay the sum of N1.04 trillion for among other irregularities, failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered subscribers, but later reviewed the sum to N780 billion.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his guest, President Buhari said that the concern of the government was not necessarily the monetary gain of the punishment but basically the security of lives and property and the need to curb such action which is inimical to human lives.
He stated that the unregistered lines were being used by terrorists to perfect plan before unleashing mayhem on the country, explaining that the telecoms company made its case worse by going to court.
“The concern of the federal government was basically on the security
and not the fine imposed on MTN. You know how the unregistered GSM are
being used by terrorists and between 2009 and today, at least 10,000 Nigerians were killed by Boko Haram; at least 10,000. That was why the NCC asked MTN, Glo and the rest of them to register GSM subscribers. Unfortunately MTN was very, very slow and contributed to the casualties. And NCC looked at its regulations and imposed the fine “Unfortunately for MTN, they went to court and once you go to court, you virtually disarm the government because if the federal government refuses to listen to the judiciary, its going against its own constitution; therefore the government has to wait.
“I think MTN has seen that and decided to withdraw the case to go back and negotiate with government agencies on what they consider a very steep fine to be reduced and maybe given time to pay gradually.”
The President also disclosed that both countries have identified the areas of economic mutuality and were ready to harness them for their benefits.
“I hope you will recall that, even before the elections our party, the APC realised the state we are in and we articulated three areas; security, economy and corruption and here we identified the role we can improve rapidly on our relationship with South Africa.
“In terms of the economy, we identified agriculture and solid minerals to come to fore quickly so that we get everybody who is unemployed, employed. South Africa is far ahead of us in agriculture and solid minerals. So, in diversifying the economy, I think that there is a great room for improvement, which is for the better,” he said.
Also fielding questions from State House Correspondents on the confiscated funds meant for arms purchase and the xenophobic crisis that erupted in the country which affected many Nigerians, South Africa President, Zuma said his government and other relevant agencies were working with their Nigerian counterparts to resolve the matter.
He promised that immediately investigations were concluded, the funds would be returned to Nigeria.
“With regards to the things that were either confiscated or went to South Africa, the two governments are working on those matters. The relevant structures are working on it but there are some that the necessary departments are doing the investigations. We will appreciate if we succeed in recovering all other things in South Africa so that they will be returned,” he explained.
On xenophobia, the South African President said, “It’s unfortunate because all Africans are the same, but colonialists through borders, have made them think that they are different but we are the same Africans and that has been our view in addressing the issue of xenophobia. We wish our people all over
Africa to realise that we are the same and have the same interests.”
The president said that relevant agencies were working in tandem to reach a compromise on the properties that were lost, stressing: “I am happy to be here with my delegation which comprises both Ministers and business (interests). We feel truly at home in Nigeria. The relations between South Africa and Nigeria dates back to the time when Nigeria supported and contributed to the liberation of our country and people.
“Our brothers and sisters here were determined that they would not rest until South Africa was free. That history binds our two countries and informs our bilateral cooperation.
“It is in part due to this memorable and rich history that I accepted the invitation from my dear brother, President Buhari,” he maintained.
President Buhari also disclosed that over 30 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding ranging from trade and industry, transport, amongst others were signed between both countries.
“We have had very fruitful discussions today, as we reviewed various bilateral and multilateral issues. We have noted with satisfaction the ever growing cooperation in many sectors, including trade and investment; defence and security; immigration matters; energy; mineral resources, to mention but a few.
“We have recognised the important role played by the South Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission since its inception in 1999. As we forge a strategic partnership between the two sister nations, we have decided to elevate the Bi-National Commission, BNC, to the level of Heads of State.
“In this way, my brother and I will be able to lead as well as monitor progress in various areas of cooperation.
“We have directed the relevant Ministers to move with speed in implementing all signed agreements.
“We have also directed our Ministers to identify joint projects in the key high impact strategic development areas, which will have socio-economic benefits such as employment creation to our peoples,” he said.
According to him, there were over 120 South African companies doing business in Nigeria just as over 4000 Nigerians travel to the country on monthly basis.
He said: “We welcome the increased economic cooperation and trade relations between our two countries over the past decade. Nigeria is South Africa’s key trading partner on the continent.
“Prior to 1999, there were only four South African companies in Nigeria. Since 1999, the situation has changed dramatically.
“Over one hundred and twenty companies are currently doing business in Nigeria, in various sectors, mainly telecommunications, banking, retail, property, entertainment and hospitality. We welcome this significant development.
“We also see great potential in boosting tourism between the two countries. According to Statistics South Africa, an average of 4000 Nigerians travelled to South Africa on a monthly basis in 2015.
“In order to promote South Africa as a tourist destination in both the vast Nigerian market and in the West African region as a whole, a Tourism Office was opened in Lagos in January 2014 by Ministers of Tourism of both countries.”
Nigeria can benefit from S/A energy sector, says Zuma
Meanwhile, South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, yesterday, told a joint session of the National Assembly that Nigeria stands to benefit from South Africa in the areas of solid mineral mining and electricity generation.
Zuma, who arrived the National Assembly complex at about 3:08pm in company of President Muhammad Buhari and other government officials from both countries, said Nigeria and South Africa must foster strategic partnership in the two sectors as a way to further strengthen their bilateral relations.
He said the bilateral relations of both countries had improved over the last 16 years, adding that it was time they moved away from the current position that makes Africa vulnerable to the terms of trade from the West.
The President of South Africa informed the lawmakers that on January 26, 2016, South African airline commenced operations between Johannesburg and Abuja and other cities in Nigeria.
“It is an honour for me to address the joint session of the National Assembly. We express our condolences on the demise of the Minister of State for Labour.
“We should strengthen oversight of the executive and passage of legislations.
“Nigeria and South Africa must foster strategic partnership.
“South Africa solid mineral mining and electricity generation can help Nigeria in her experiences in developing these sectors in Nigeria,” Zuma stated.
Zuma also reiterated the need for the consideration of new environmental challenges such as global warming and climate change.
The visiting president said the manner in which Nigeria conducted its 2015 general elections gives the hope that the country was on the path of progress.
He further stated that Nigeria started the struggle for the liberation of South Africa, stressing that Nigeria’s support for South Africa’s liberation had a place in African history.
According to him, “The 2015 general election and the manner it was conducted gives us the confidence that you are on the path of progress.
“Nigeria started the liberation struggle for South Africa. Also Nigeria was instrumental in the establishment of the OAU in 1963.
“Nigeria’s support for South Africa liberation has a place in African history.”
While emphasizing that they must unite and work together for peace and security, Zuma called for total commitment to defeat those that bring harm to the continent.