Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has disclosed what transpired between him and the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, over xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African nationals residing in South Africa.
According to Obasanjo, who said he paid a courtesy call on the South African leader recently, said Ramaphosa, agreed that his country had indeed erred and his government was making frantic efforts to correct the mistake.
Obasanjo also said Ramaphosa concurred that there was an urgent need for Nigeria and South Africa to establish a “Bilateral Commission”, to further deepen the relationship between the two countries.
The former President made this known on Saturday, during a chat with select journalists at his Pent House residence inside the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta.
Obasanjo, who said he also met with the Nigerian Consular-General in South Africa, further disclosed that he was told that no Nigerian lost his or her life, but scores lost their properties.
He lauded the South African President for sending emissaries to countries affected by the xenophobic attacks to apologise, advocating compensation for victims of the attacks.
Obasanjo further expressed his joy that President Ramaphosa was ready to do what needed to be done to stop the incidents and to put the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa back on the right track.
“I believe the President of South Africa did the right thing to quickly send emissaries to apologize to the countries that are affected; countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, and I think this was good. I took the opportunity of being in South Africa about three or four days ago to pay a courtesy call on President Cyril Ramaphosa and he quickly granted me the opportunity. One of the major things we discussed is this issue of xenophobia or Afrophobia.
“One good thing I discovered among many is that the president said to me that “there are so much at stake and whatever mistake we have made, we have to correct it”. And I think that was a very good statement and I know that he meant it because he immediately said look what can we do or should we do?. Of course, one of the things they are going to do between South Africa and Nigeria is they are going to have what we established in my term we called it ‘Bi-lateral Commission’. They have raised it during my time; it was at the second echelon level of vice-president, the deputy president. But, now they have raised it to the president level and I understand that our president would be there within the first week of October. I think that is good because they can iron out that issues that must not be left undealt with.
“The other thing that I found talking to our Consul-General was, fortunately, in this particular incident, there was no Nigerian who lost his or her life which is good enough, but a lot of them lost properties.