Fred Itua and Obi Okwe, Abuja
The next session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) would hold in Pretoria in October to evolve documented solutions to xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in that country, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Suleiman, has said.
Suleiman told the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs in Abuja, yesterday, that the BNC, which would be attended by Nigerian and South African officials, was part of government’s efforts at ending attacks of Nigerian nationals in South Africa.
The Nigeria-South Africa BNC was established in 1999 to promote trade and investment as well as enhance people-to-people cooperation and institution building between the two countries.
According to its statute, the BNC, which was being headed by vice presidents of both countries, was “borne out of a commitment by Nigeria and South Africa to effectively structure bilateral relations through the establishment of a Bi-National Commission.”
The annual meeting of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission, which was being hosted by rotation between both countries, was last held in 2009.
Suleiman said the meeting would result in the signing of agreements and memorandum of understanding (MoU) between both countries on how best to remedy issues of Xenophobia now and in the future.
“Essentially, now we are trying to make sure that we have subsisting agreements that will address these issues now and in the future .
“We are looking at other issues we feel should be part of the definition of the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
“The essence of this is that it will help to determine our actions, if such issue happens, which I think in the last few years we had not had such agreements.
“Because xenophobic attacks had been happening over time but, this is the climax and it has come to fore that South African government must protect Nigerian citizens.
“And it requires some kind of documentation, some kind of understanding between the two countries as to how it can be remedied,’’ the permanent secretary said.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the ministry to use the conference to bring up all the issues that are challenging and irritating Nigeria’s relationship with South Africa.
Meanwhile, the African Union, Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC), Nigerian chapter, has said the apology tendered by the South African government following the serial attack meted out on Nigerians was not enough.
AU ECOSOCC said that those who perpetrated the act should be brought to book, to serve as a deterrent to others.
It’s Nigerian Representative, Oba John, in a statement, yesterday, wondered why a country which benefited from the magnanimity of Nigerians during its trying moments would, in turn be aggrieve to Nigerians.
“I want to commend the South African president but also say apology alone is not enough. Other measures must be taken to prevent a re-occurrence of this inhuman actions.
“Those involved must be brought to book while the affected should be compensated with concrete assurance from the government that such will not happen again. We also want to urge the politicians not to take advantage of the situation.