President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday departed Abuja for Waterloof Air Force Base, Pretoria, to begin a three-day official visit to South Africa.
Concise News reports that the president left the Presidential Villa at about 1:30 p.m. for Pretoria via the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
President Buhari had earlier presided over the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) before embarking on the trip.
The visit comes against the background of recent xenophobic attacks, the evacuation of hundreds of Nigerians and the exchange of visits by special envoys of Presidents Buhari and Ramaphosa.
While in Pretoria, the Nigerian leader will hold bilateral meeting with his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to discuss the welfare of Nigerians.
The two African leaders will also find common grounds for building harmonious relations among their respective citizens.
President Buhari will hold a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in the country to further know their plight.
An earlier statement on the trip issued by Mallam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesperson, said the Nigerian leader would use the opportunity to reassure Nigerians in South Africa of the Nigerian government’s commitment to working for the protection of their lives and property and promoting peaceful co-existence.
Issues that would lead to improvement in trade to be discussed by Buhari, Ramaphosa
Between 2010 and 2015, trade between the two countries increased steadily from N43.6 billion (R.20.6 billion) in 2010 to N1.5 trillion (R.62 billion) in 2015.
“The gradual movement since 2010 could be attributed to Nigeria’s demand for automotive parts. South Africa exports cars, vehicles, structures and parts of structure, uncoated paper and paperboard.
“South African companies have today become significant players in these sectors of the Nigerian economy from 1999 to 2015,’’ the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Louis Mnguni, announced in 2016.
However, since 2016, trade volume between the two countries has dropped to about N1.3 trillion (R.55 billion) from N1,5 trillion (R.62 billion) in 2015.
It is expected, therefore, that both leaders would discuss issues that would lead to improvement in trade between both countries.
President Buhari and his host are expected to preside over the South Africa/Nigeria Bi-National Commission, during which a progress report will be presented and a communiqué issued at the end.
The communiqué is expected to upgrade the Bi-National Commission to a summit on October 3.
The president is expected back in Abuja on Friday.