The devastation that accompanied Cyclone Idai, which ravaged Zimbabwe earlier this year, was so enormous that Nigeria could not afford to look the other way, and had to offer a helping hand, President Muhammadu Buhari, said on Thursday.
The president said this at State House in Abuja while receiving in farewell audience the Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Nigeria, His Excellency Lovemore Mazemo.
“It was a major disaster, and it caused damage in billions of dollars. Nigeria, despite our own challenges, had to provide aid to ameliorate the situation,” the president said, adding that he was glad that the outgoing Ambassador and his country appreciated the hand of fellowship.
Cyclone Idai ravaged Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, and is believed to be the costliest natural disaster in South-West Indian Ocean basin. Goods and properties estimated at two billion dollars were lost.
The president also recalled the role Nigeria played to secure the Independence of Zimbabwe from apartheid minority rule, stressing: “we remain proud of what Nigeria did in those days.”
Ambassador Mazemo, who spent four-and-a-half years in Nigeria, said he found a home here, “and a family among your wonderful people.”
Saying that assistance given by Nigeria after the cyclone “went a long way to relieve our people,” the ambassador said the relationship between the two countries had improved tremendously in recent years.
The ambassador also congratulated President Buhari on the confidence reposed in him by his people, making them to elect him twice, and equally lauded him for the leadership he has provided for Africa in the war against corruption.