*** Govt to Protect over 800,000 Nigerians in South Africa, Pushes for compensation
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- DESPITE the continued cases of Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationalities in South Africa, the Federal Government, today said that its diplomatic ties with South Africa will not be severed.
According to the Federal Government, rather than the take such an action, a wide range of diplomatic moves were being made by the Nigerian Government to get South African Government and her citizens realise the need to prevent such attacks against Nigerians and other Africans.
Briefing Journalists yesterday in Abuja at the Senate wing of the National Assembly after an emergency closed-door meeting with the Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non Governmental Organizations, NGOs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed that the Federal Government would however strongly push for compensation from South African Government for Nigerians affected in the latest xenophobic attacks in the country.
He, however, said that the push for compensation would be despite the declaration by the South African Government that there would be no compensation for affected people in the last Monday attack.
He, however, appealed to Nigerians not to retaliate the attacks in any way for the sake of interests of both countries, particularly the 800,000 Nigerians resident in South Africa.
According to Onyeama, the government was yet to reach the decision to cut off relations with South Africa but trying to explore different diplomatic roadmaps to find lasting solution to the crisis, adding that part of that roadmap was the decision by government to send a special envoy to discuss with authorities in South Africa at the highest level.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that while Nigeria was thinking of definite steps to take, it was also necessary to protect the interest of almost Eight Hundred Thousand Nigerian citizens living in South Africa.
Onyeama further disclosed that while no Nigerian was killed in the Xenophobic attacks; the Federal Government will do everything within its powers to ensure adequate compensation is paid for the property destroyed.
Onyeama said, “We met with the senate committee and reviewed the situation in South Africa, and examined all the possible options and the causes and agreed on a road map of moving forward and part of that road map from the executive side we have sent a special envoy dispatched by Mr President who will be holding discussions with the South African Government at a very high level and they should be back tomorrow and that would give the government a basis on which further action should be taken . In the meantime, the government is very much on top of the situation and following the situation.
Speaking, Chairman Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs, Senator Surajudeen Bashiru Ajibola ( APC Osun Central) who noted that diplomatic options were the best approach to the problem and not retaliation or diplomatic face-off, advised Nigerians to remain calm and not take the laws into their own hands.