WE wish to emphasise that the proposed meeting between Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, is a welcome development.

The meeting, expected to take place in October 2019 in South Africa at the invitation of the South African leader, is obviously a reciprocation of Ramaphosa’s visit to Buhari in Abuja in July this year. This meeting has a ready-made two-point agenda: (a) ending the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa and (b) fostering economic ties between the two front line African nations.

Without ending the rampant killings of Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa, no meaningful economic ties can be consummated. The Consul-General of the Nigerian Consulate in South Africa, Mr. Godwin Adama, recently confirmed that between 2015 and September 2018, 130 Nigerians were murdered in South Africa. That is outrageous and unacceptable.

Apart from xenophobic attacks, it is also known that many Nigerians are living as outlaws in South Africa and often target one another in organised crime-related “hits”. This is purely a case for law enforcement, and the South African authorities owe it a duty to enforce their laws without prejudice to foreigners.

We call on Buhari and Ramaphosa to tackle this issue once and for all, more so as Nigerians have only protested but refrained from retaliatory attacks.

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Secondly, South Africa must re-establish a solid economic bond that must be mutually beneficial, rather than the current one-sidedness that favours South African economic interests. While South African investments in Nigeria are thriving and capitalising on our large and boisterous population and free atmosphere for growth, the same cannot be said for Nigerian businesses in South Africa.

Nigeria must share more of the prosperity of huge South African companies like MTN, Protea Hotels, Multichoice, Shoprite, Spar and numerous others through their open listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. When Ramaphosa visited Buhari in July, he said South Africa would like to deepen ties with Nigeria not just at “people to people level but also at economic level… underpinned by good political relations between the two countries”. That is also what we want; so the two countries should go for it together. Nigeria has every right to benefit from the freedom of Black South Africans from the apartheid regime which we fought as a “front line state”. This should be drummed into Ramaphosa and his people, in case they have forgotten so soon.

Buhari and Ramaphosa should reawaken the strong ties that existed between Nigeria and South Africa as fostered by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the late President Nelson Mandela and later on, Thabo Mbeki. It gave birth to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD. This has become more imperative, with the signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA.

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