By Victoria Ojeme
New York: The Federal Government says it will take on South Africa on the issues of trade, security and compensation for victims of the recent xenophobic attacks at the Nigeria/South Africa Bi-National Commission meeting holding Wednesday.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama stated this in an interview with newsmen at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
The Nigeria/South Africa Joint Commission was established in 1999 to promote relations between both countries and it was upgraded to Bi-National Commission (BNC) in 2001 to showcase the strategic nature of the relationship between the two very important countries. The Commission is about to be further upgraded to the Summit level on 3rd October, 2019.
The Ministerial Meeting of the Bi-National Commission scheduled for Wednesday 2nd October, 2019 would be co-chaired by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and his South African counterpart Dr. GNM Pandor. Also in attendance would be the Honourable Minister of Interior and Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment among others.
The preparatory meeting would focus on consolidation of the subsisting signed Agreements/MoUs, explore the possibility of strengthening relations in the area of Defence and Security, Political, Economic and Energy sector. Other areas of common interest include negotiations on pending agreements on matters of mutual cooperation, focal amongst which would be, Diplomatic Consultation and Early Warning System against Xenophobia among others.
According to the Minister, “those who have been attacking and looting Nigerians and other Africans are issues that we have been engaging the South Africa government on, some Nigerians has left, but it has been a private initiative.”
“The government has been there to render any assistance and organising those who wanted to leave but the evacuation has been private sector driven,” he said.
Onyeama added that the meeting will discuss how to prevent any future attack on Nigerians and their properties and ensure their security and also get compassion for losses suffered.
“With regards to Nigerians leaving in South Africa and other countries, you know when you go to other people’s country, you should obey the laws and of course if you don’t, invariably you have to pay the price according to the laws of those countries. There are Nigerians serving sentences in other countries, what we do is to provide consulate assistance if there is legal assistance the consulate can [offer],” he said.