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S/Africa Takes Steps To Build Relationship With Gen. Buhari

South Africa, Nigeria relationship


A South African newspaper, The Mail & Guardian, reported on Friday that South Africa had begun to work out the process of returning more than R100-million in Nigerian money that it confiscated last year, or clearing the way to sell arms to the West African country.

The Mail and Guardian through diplomatic sources informed that South Africa has begun talks to work out a process to return the money in an effort to start off on a clean slate with the recently elected government of the Nigerian president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari.

South African law enforcement agencies seized $15-million in two batches: $5.7-million that had been wired to Standard Bank and $9.3-million in cash, which was confiscated. It was brought into the country through Lanseria airport in Johannesburg in three suitcases by a delegation said to represent the Nigerian government. In both cases, the money was suspected to be for illegal use.

Now South Africa wants to use the money to extend an olive branch to Buhari’s government and mend relations between the two countries, which became strained during the tenure of outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan.
“The positive thing about [Buhari] is that one of the people who supported him is Atiku Abubakar. That makes him our man and he will automatically work well with [President Jacob] Zuma,” a government source said.

Close connection
Abubakar is close to Zuma. He was Nigeria’s vice president during the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, at the time when Zuma was Thabo Mbeki’s deputy.

“Also, this man [Buhari] is a [retired] military general. It is true that the military needs some beefing up to fight Boko Haram and we should help,” the source added.

So how will Nigeria know that it stands to benefit from an otherwise controversial transaction that had exacerbated tensions between the two countries?

Explained the government source: “Diplomatically you send a signal. Obviously they will have to make a request once they receive a positive signal, but the request will just be an official step to finalising the transaction.”

Buhari is due to take over the leadership of the country after winning the recent elections. Formal talks have not yet begun but South Africa has apparently started sending “positive signals” through its diplomats in Nigeria and to the Nigerian embassy in Pretoria.
19:42
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