FG Won’t Sever Diplomatic Ties With S’Africa, As Oshiomhole Presses For Tough Sanctions

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Godffrey Onyeama
Godffrey Onyeama

Hope that Nigeria would severe diplomatic ties with South Africa following the current xenophobic attacks on Nigerians has been dashed.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who stated this on Friday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Diaspora, said taking such action would not be in the interest of Nigerians in South Africa.

This is even as Adams Oshiomhole, National chairman of the All Progressives Congress, and APC, has advised the Federal Government to review the terms of operation for South African businesses domiciled in the country.

He wondered why businesses like DSTV and MTN should continue repatriating millions of dollars to South Africa yearly from their business activities in Nigeria with very little value addition.

However, Onyeama said available statistics from the Nigeria High Commission in Pretoria indicated that more than 800,000 Nigerians are legally living in the South African country.

He noted that any attempt by the country to cut diplomatic relationship with the former apartheid nation, would greatly affect Nigerians and their huge investment there.

The minister said the special envoys dispatched to Johannesburg by President Muhammadu Buhari would return to Nigeria on Saturday.

He explained that their report would guide the Nigerian leader to take a decisive action in the overall interest of the country.

Onyeama, who briefed journalists after a meeting with the Senate panel led by Senator Bashir Ajibola, said Nigeria would consider other options apart from diplomatic ties severance, to resolve the unfortunate development.

He said, “We are not thinking to the stage of diplomatic ties called off. There are various options. We are not by any means at a stage where we are breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa.

“We just met with the senate committee to review the situation with regards to South Africa and we looked at all the possible options we analysed the possible causes and agreed on a road map going forward.

“Part of that road map on the executive side, Mr. President has dispatched a special envoy to South Africa who would be holding discussion with the South African government at the very highest level.

“He (leader of the envoy) should be back Saturday, that will now give the government the basis for further action. In the mean time, if the government is very much on top of the situation.

“We know for a fact that no Nigerian life has been lost so we are extremely concerned now to ensure that there will be adequate compensation for property that have been damaged.

“We know that a Nigerian Airline is putting a plane at the disposal of most Nigerians that wish to take the opportunity to leave South Africa, this is purely voluntary, but we are particularly determined to particularly make sure that this crisis does not re-occur.

“It has been happening for far too long, its becoming almost endemic, so with the distinguished senators, are helping with some of the options that we may have to ensure that this will be the last time we will ever be meeting to talk about Nigerians attacked in South Africa and to take definitive measures.

“To start doing that, we want to have all the facts available and then we will take the necessary measures.”

Oshiomhole insisted now was the time for the Federal Government and Nigerians to take strong measures against South African owned concerns in Nigeria.

He expressed his views on Thursday while speaking with reporters at the end of a closed-door meeting of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the law APC in Abuja. He was reacting to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in the former apartheid country.

The chairman said Nigerians should boycott MTN for 30 days as a signal to South African authorities that they are fed up with xenophobic attacks adding, “Happily, we have indigenous networks like GLO, Airtel and 9mobile,” he said.

He spoke further: “This occasion also offers us an opportunity to reflect on why we should continue to allow DSTV to repatriate millions of dollars to South Africa every year, arising from their activities in Nigeria. We have to review all of those things that give South African companies monopoly such that they make money with very little value addition.

“It will also be an appropriate message to the South African government that until they find satisfactory explanations and pay appropriate compensations to those innocent Nigerians whose property have been looted and those who have been killed, South African Airways should be stopped.

“Their landing right should be stopped. They should not have right to fly to any part of Nigeria until these issues are sorted out. Nigerians need to show that we are not cheap to be molested. The life of every Nigerian matters whether at home or abroad.”