A subtle, but profound, riot act has been read to South Africa by Nigeria’s number three man: protect our business interests in your country, and we will reciprocate.
Nigerians and their businesses have been the butt of violent attacks in some African countries, especially South Africa and Ghana. In Ghana, even the government has shown disdain for Nigerian businesses even though top officials pretend there is a chummy diplomatic relationship.
Nigerian traders there have asked to be relocated home in a letter and meeting with the Chairwoman of the Nigerians In the Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
But Thursday, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, told the South African authorities to reciprocate the Nigerian Government’s gesture by ensuring that the business interests of Nigerians in South Africa are secured.
It is not known if Lawan’s subtle admonition will carry any weight as African countries are known not to pay any attention to the Federal Government’s past barks.
Lawan spoke when a three-man delegation led by the High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, Mr. Thamsanga Dennis Mseleku, paid an official visit to him.
Others in the delegation include: Mr. Bobby J. Moroe, Minister Plenipotentiary; and Ms. Boipelo Lefatshe, First Secretary Political.
According to the Senate President, efforts by both countries to secure the business interest of its nationals would create better chances of employment for their citizens across board and guarantee stronger economic prospects for Nigeria and South Africa.
“For quite some time now, there are many South African companies that find Nigeria to be home, we are trying to see if we can achieve the same in South Africa.
“But I want to assure you that we will continue to support the Executive arm of government in Nigeria to ensure that all South African business interests are protected.
“I will however urge that we are able to bring both countries together, that is to mean it shouldn’t be an isolationist sort of arrangement.
“When you have your businesses here, we should have Nigerians given the opportunity to participate in those businesses after some time. I believe that doing so will breed a closer relationship in terms of economic and social engagements,” Lawan said.
Speaking on the relationship between South Africa and Nigeria, the Senate President advocated for a synergy between the parliaments of both countries, adding that a collaboration of sorts would better serve the general interest of the African continent.
“Our relations have taken some bashing in the last few years, but for the right steps taken by our Presidents, Muhammadu Buhari and Cyril Ramaphosa to exchange visits.
“We believe that relations are being mended and seem better, particularly taking into consideration that Nigeria and South Africa are the political and economic giants having occupied the first and second positions in terms of status.
“So, we need to continuously have a very good and cordial relationship because if we don’t, then Africa suffers.
“I recall that in 2017 and 2018, we sent a parliamentary team from the National Assembly to South Africa with certain issues that we felt strongly about at that time.
“I believe that we need to develop the relationship between the South African and Nigerian Parliaments.
“Already, we are members of the Pan African Parliament, which I was privileged to represent the parliament of Nigeria, with chambers in South Africa. And of course, we belong to the ACPU together, the Commonwealth and so on.
“Though these are multilateral parliamentary institutions, I believe what we need to do is to bring both countries’ parliaments (Nigeria and South Africa) to lead the rest of the continent. That gives Africa a better and more respectable image,” the Senate President said.
Earlier, the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Thamsanga Dennis Mseleku, said the visit was particularly to inform the Nigerian parliament of the presence of the South African Commission in Nigeria.
“The purpose of our visit is to actually announce our presence in your lovely country to say we are now here representing South Africa, and we are ready to be available at all times when it comes to matters that relate to the relationship between our countries,” he said.