President Jacob Zuma of South Africa yesterday arrived Nigeria in apparent bid to, among others, stave off the N780bn fine slammed on one of its biggest exports, MTN.
Zuma arrived Monday night, confirming reports by Ripples Nigeria that he was due Nigeria on March 8 for extensive bilateral discussions with his host, President Muhammadu Buhari. He and his delegation were received by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who had been a long-time friend even outside official circles. Atiku was joined by the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello in brief airport formalities.
Coming at the instance of President Buhari, bilateral discussions are expected to revolve around mainly trade relations which recently suffered a bump with MTN breaching one of the rules of Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) last year, October. MTN near dominance in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector reflects in its earnings which until recently threatened to overtake the consolidated revenue of all Nigerian banks.
Presidency watchers believe that Muhammadu Buhari will seize the opportunity of Zuma’s visit to impress on his guest why South African businesses must obey Nigeria’s laws. He would also seek Zuma’s intervention in the wanton killing foreigners South Africa, especially Nigerians.
Having acknowledged its blunder and offset N50bn of the N780bn slammed on her, there are strong indications that President Zuma will push for some sort of ‘plea bargain’ on behalf of MTN to put a closure to the impasse.
South Africa and Nigeria have good bilateral political, economic and social relations, underpinned by strong historical ties dating back from the years of the liberation struggle.
Nigeria and South Africa conduct their bilateral relations through a structured Bi-National Commission (BNC) established in 1999. There are more than 120 South African companies doing business in Nigeria in various sectors, including telecommunications, aviation, tourism, banking, property, retail, entertainment and fast food.
Nigeria is South Africa’s key trading partner on the continent, providing significant opportunities for its exports and investments. Nigeria is ranked seventh in terms of South Africa’s total trade in Africa,” a statement released earlier this week reads.
President Zuma’s visit will end tomorrow March 9.
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