Following continuing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other Africans by South Africans, it appears the governments of both countries are working out modalities to find a lasting solution to the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law abiding Nigerians.
Recall that in a comment angered many Nigerians, the Foreign Affairs Minister of South Africa, Ms Naledi Pandor, who had earliner said there were no provisions in the law of the country for paying compensation to Nigerians for attacks on businesses and persons, said, “Help us address the belief and the reality that our people have that there are many persons from Nigeria, who are dealing in drugs in our country, who are harming our young people by making drugs easily available to them.
“The belief that Nigerian nationals are involved in human trafficking and other abusive practices. This kind of assistance in ensuring that such people don’t come to our country would be of great assistance to our nation.”
The new rapprochement between both countries is one of the fall-outs of the visit of a special envoy, who is the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, sent to South Africa to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Details of meetings in South Africa by the envoy, released by Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, also gives an impression that the intelligence agencies of both countries will work together to sift the good from the bad for appropriate action.
The Special Envoy conveyed the assurance of President Buhari that the Nigerian Government is ready and willing to collaborate with the South African Government, even as President Buhari has also given instruction for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home,
according to the statement.
The statement reads further: “President Muhammadu Buhari sent Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (DGNIA) as his Special Envoy to South Africa, to convey a Special Message to his counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa. The Special Envoy, who was in Pretoria from Thursday, 5th to Saturday, 7th September 2019 conveyed:
▪The deep concern of President Buhari and Nigerians about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property/business interests in South Africa.
▪President Buhari stressed the need for South African Government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations.
▪President Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it.
▪President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian Government will guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria.
▪On his part, President Ramaphosa agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing, adding that his government completely rejects such acts, which undermine not only the country’s image but also its relations with brotherly African countries.
▪ President Ramaphosa reaffirmed his stand against criminality and committed to do everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.
▪The Special Envoy also interfaced with his South African counterpart, where they reviewed the situation of foreign emigrants in general and Nigerians in particular. They agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property.
▪President Buhari has taken note of the report and instructed the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue to engage with appropriate Authorities on the concrete measure the South African Government is expected to take.