OrderPaperToday – Nigeria and South Africa have agreed to discuss the troubling crisis between both nations triggered by xenophobic attacks on nationals of the former lately.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Suleiman, has said that the next session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) would hold in Pretoria in October.
The session headed by the vice presidents of both countries seeks to evolve documented solutions to xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
BNC was established in 1999 with the aim of promoting trade and investment while improving people-to-people cooperation and institution-building between the two African countries.
The annual meeting is hosted by rotation and was last held in 2009.
Suleiman gave this information when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday in Abuja.
According to him, the BNC would be attended by Nigerian and South African officials as part of its efforts in combating attacks on Nigerians residing in South Africa which involves signing of agreements and memorandum of understanding (MoU).
The Permanent secretary said: “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.”
Suleiman further noted that the President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the meeting be used to discuss Nigeria’s challenging issues with South Africa.
As part of its preparation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema equally convened an inter-ministerial meeting with various ministries in Nigeria to get inputs on other issues to be brought for discussion at the conference.
Suleiman said: “And we have defined all the perimeters, we now have our draft MoUs and draft agreements that will be tabled for discussion, when the bilateral commission is conveyed on the first week of October.
“We look forward to the conference; we look forward to signing agreements and MoUs in specific terms, when such issues happen to Nigerian citizens.
“What kind of remedies can we put in place, so we are defining such parameters, we are seeking to establish them as agreements, so we can refer to it to solve these issues when they come up in the future.”
Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Mohammed Bulkachuwa, in his remarks commended the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, for offering to evacuate Nigerians willing to return to the country.