President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja disclosed that the devastation which accompanied Cyclone Idai, which ravaged Zimbabwe earlier this year, was so enormous that Nigeria could not afford to look the other way, but compelled to offer the country a helping hand.

The president made this disclosure at the State House, while receiving in farewell audience the Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Nigeria, Lovemore Mazemo.

A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Cyclone Idai ravaged Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi, and was believed to be the costliest natural disaster in South-West Indian Ocean basin, destroying goods and properties estimated at $2 billion.

“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”.

Adesina said Buhari also recalled the role that Nigeria played in the struggle for the independence of Zimbabwe from apartheid minority rule, saying “we remain proud of what Nigeria did in those days.”

He also said the ambassador, who spent four-and-a-half years in Nigeria, stated that he found a home in Nigeria, “and a family among your wonderful people.”

He added that the ambassador submitted that assistance given by Nigeria after the cyclone “went a long way to relieve our people,” adding that relationship between the two countries had improved tremendously in recent years.

“The Ambassador 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,” the statement added.