Protests against xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa continued on Wednesday with the Federal Government declaring that Nigeria would boycott the World Economic Forum on Africa scheduled for the former apartheid enclave.
Though the Federal Government beefed up security at companies including the MTN and Shoprite linked to South Africa, this could not stop protesters from attacking some of these companies in cities across the nation.
The Federal Government also expressed its determination to end the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa once and for all.
The government’s latest stance came after a morning meeting summoned by President Muhammadu Buhari to review developments so far.
At the meeting were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.
The meeting resolved that “enough is enough,” adding that this time round, Nigeria would ensure that attacks on its citizens in South Africa must end.
Onyeama, who spoke with State House Correspondents after the meeting, said several measures had been reached and would be unfolded in the days ahead.
He stated that talks with the South African authorities would be detailed this time round and would shape the pattern of the Nigeria-South Africa relations in the years ahead.
Onyeama confirmed that one option considered was that Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Ambassador Kabiru Bala, should return home.
However, he clarified that this would be after the special envoy Buhari sent to his South African counterpart, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, would have concluded the assignment and reported back to the President.
He declined to name the special envoy for “security reasons” but added that he was expected to be back from South Africa by the weekend.
FG may recall ambassador
On the recall of the high commissioner, Onyeama stated that it was one of the options being considered, adding that it was the wish of the government that he had returned home already.
The minister clarified, “It is one of the options we are considering. He will need to come back, but we feel he should come back after the envoy has gone there, so that Mr President will also have the benefits of the full and comprehensive brief from all the individuals who are in the position to have seen things at a close range.”
But Onyeama confirmed that Nigeria had indeed withdrawn its participation at the World Economic Forum on Africa to be held in Capetown, South Africa, from September 4 to 6.
He stated that Osinbajo was delegated by Buhari to attend the summit, but explained that the President later asked him to withdraw on account of the attacks.
The minster cited the examples of Congo, Rwanda and Malawi, whose leaders had also withdrawn their participation, adding that it was natural that Nigeria, being a major victim of the attacks, should withdraw as well.
Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi issue travel alerts
Besides Nigeria, countries such as Malawi and Ghana took measures to protest their citizens on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Malawi, in a statement on Wednesday stated, “As a precautionary measure, the Malawi Government is advising all Malawians living in the Republic of South Africa to stay away from communities where there are incident of violence for their safety.”
The Malawian government advised truck drivers and those who were planning to travel to consider suspending such trips during this period until such a time that the security situation would improve.
On its part, the Ghanaian government urged South Africa to take measures that would ensure peaceful co-existence between South Africans and other Africans.
Stop reprisals, it’s hurting Nigeria, says Buhari
On the reprisals on property and companies linked to South Africa in Nigeria, the minster disclosed that Buhari was “totally and completely” against it on the grounds that violence must not be paid back with violence.
Onyeama added that the President felt reprisals would make the world see Nigeria the same way they saw South Africa at the moment.
The minister said, “Mr President is particularly distraught at the act of vandalism that has taken place here in Nigeria, in retaliation of what is happening in South Africa.
“The government believes that we have to take the moral high ground on this matter. We are victims here and have made that position clear to the international community and to the South African government. We here in Nigeria must not fall into the temptation of also resorting to the acts that we are condemning in others.
“So, Mr President has pleaded and he is likely to make a statement on this, addressing the Nigerian people to please desist from acts of vandalism and aggression, destroying properties.
“Now, these business concerns, Shoprite, MTN and others, yes, there are South Africans but these are subsidiaries in Nigeria owned by Nigerians. So, as attacks are made against Shoprite and other such institutions, it is actually the property owned by Nigerians within Nigeria and the people working there are Nigerians.
“So, the people that will suffer from those acts of vandalism and aggression are not South Africans or anyone else but Nigerians. But, morally, it is wrong not even because of who will suffer and not suffer.”
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