By Ikenna Uwadileke
Mr Bobby Moroe, Acting High Commissioner, South African High Commission in Nigeria, on Friday expressed his country’s commitment to strengthen cultural and economic ties with Imo.
Moroe said this when the Imo Concerned Citizens (ICC), a socio-cultural group visited him in Abuja.
He said that South Africa and Nigeria, particularly Imo had many areas that could be of mutual benefits to them.
According to him, there is need to create cohesion between the state and South Africa with a view to creating better life for the people.
“It is therefore necessary to identify and propose the areas South Africa and Imo State can cooperate based on the needs assessment of the state.
“We welcome the efforts of the state to renew our relationship, be it in agriculture, automobile or in tourism; we need to identify areas of common interest,’’ Moroe said.
While noting that Nigeria and South Africa are the emerging giants of Africa, Moroe emphasised the need to correct the misconception that both countries were rivals.
He called for media exchange programmes that are crucial in setting the records right.
“What we will not allow is the media projection that both countries are rivals.
“We need inter exchange of media so that people can begin to change the narrative and tell the story in objective manner.
“Politically, both countries are the dominant state entities in their respective sub-regions and we must sustain the narrative of building than destroying.
“We have to cultivate regular media relationship and explore opportunities of writing things that are truthful.
“People are easily carried away by what they read but when you give them the full story, they begin to have a better understanding.
“We need more engagement to demystify the stigma,’’ Moroe said.
Earlier, the Convener of the group, Mr Amadichi Chike, identified tourism as one of the areas that South Africa and Imo could leverage for mutual benefits.
He said “South Africa made a lot of progress in tourism, so Imo is one area the country can build its capacity.
“We have travelled to South Africa and we have seen good things and those things we feel can be replicated in Nigeria.’’
Chike pleaded with Moroe to visit Imo in order to have better engagement with Gov. Emeka Ihedioha to give impetus to ongoing efforts aimed at strengthening the existing bilateral, economic and social ties.