The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) foreign relations head has praised the Nigerian Armed forces for its strong relationship with the South African military.
Major General Daniel Mofokeng, head of SANDF Foreign Relations, said Nigeria was in the forefront in the struggle against apartheid and that the country made huge sacrifices for the liberation of South Africa from minority rule.
Nigeria supported the then Frontline States organisation, which was established to achieve democratic majority rule in South Africa. Former members included Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. According to the South African Institute of International Affairs, Namibia contributed an estimated US$61 billion towards the anti-apartheid effort between the 1980s and 1994.
Nigeria played a pivotal role in establishing the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid in the 1960s while ordinary Nigerians contributed financially to the anti-apartheid movement, especially in reaction to the 1976 Soweto uprisings.
Mofokeng said that Nigeria also offered military training and support to assist the African National Congress. According to him, Nigeria’s gesture helped shore up relations between Abuja and Pretoria.
“I must say the relations between the two countries most especially before 1994; has been extra ordinary in the sense that Nigeria has been in the forefront in the anti-apartheid struggle. It assisted and trained our cadre, our students and military students then. So I must say the cooperation between the two has been very great indeed”.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces’ very intimidating credentials, in terms of its military professionalism, is exemplified by its role in Liberia, Sierra Leone and most recently, in Ivory Coast,” Nigeria’s Defence Adviser to South Africa, Commodore Jacob Ajani told the Voice of Nigeria
“In most international fora you find out that it comes easily that Nigeria takes the frontline by way of providing leadership. We have provided many force commandants for the United Nations’ peace keeping missions and the Africa Union as well.”
The Nigerian Defence adviser had hosted fellow Defence attaches and Advisers at a reception to commemorate the 2012 Nigeria’s Armed Forces and Remembrance Day celebrations in Pretoria, South Africa. The day is celebrated on January 15 every year.