Henry Umoru – Abuja
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari is expected to hold a high-level talk on a bilateral trade agreement with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa , in October.
The meeting between Buhari and Ramaphosa is part of moves being put together by both countries to nip in the bud, the continued xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in the former apartheid enclave.
To end the attacks, the Federal Government has resolved to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the South African government to forestall future attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.
Speaking with journalists at the National Assembly Complex after a meeting between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Mohammed Bulkachuwa, the Permanent Secretary, in the ministry, Amb. Mustapha Suleiman said the federal government has resolved to explore and adopt diplomatic measures to ensure the safety of Nigerians and their property in South Africa.
Thursday’s meeting was at the instance of the Senate Committee on Foreign, Affairs who invited the ministry officials to come and give an update on its handling of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
Amb. Mustapha, who represented the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, told the Committee that part of the proactive measures was to develop early warning system using the framework of the government of South Africa and Nigeria for deterrence and rapid response in the event of future occurrence.
The permanent secretary said: “Now we are trying to enter into Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between us and South Africa to forestall such attacks in the future. Prior to the incident, our President was invited to South Africa.
“At the coming October 1 meeting, the MOU will be unveiled. The essence is to determine what to look up to if such happen in the future, the documentation for understanding on how such will be remedied.
” When such happens to Nigerian citizen, what kind of remedy should we expect from the South African government.?”
Amb. Suleiman who reiterated the government’s readiness to protect its citizens, wherever they are in any part of the globe, disclosed that about 800 Nigerians in South Africa have since signified interest in the ongoing voluntary evacuation from South Africa.
The permanent secretary commended the gesture of the Chairman/ Chief Executive of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, whose airline has been giving free flights to Nigerians anxious to flee South Africa.
He added, “Our concern is the safety of Nigerians, their lives and property wherever they are. Nigerians wherever they are, they are very industrious and hardworking. Unfortunately, whenever such incidence happens, they are the first victim.”