XENOPHOBIA: NIGERIA/SOUTH AFRICA SET UP EARLY WARNING UNIT
Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (rtd)
The governments of Nigeria and South Africa have reached an agreement to establish an Early Warning Unit, a multi-sectoral mechanism, to afford Nigerians living in South Africa access to the agencies responsible for their safety and security, as well as the mandate to address their complaints in that country.
This was disclosed in a joint press briefing by the Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (rtd) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
In an opening remark, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the essence of the press briefing was brief the media on the outcome of their recent visit to South Africa, in the wake of the xenophobic crisis involving Nigerian nationals there.
He said the Early Warning system is a mechanism which guarantees and protects the interest of Nigerians when such early signals occur.
This membership of the Unit would comprise the Nigerian Consulate, Nigeria High Commission, the leadership of the Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA), South African Ministry of Home Affairs, and South African Police.
According to the Ministers, the Early Warning Unit would pave way for South Africans to work with law-abiding Nigerians, and would also afford Nigerians the opening through which to give the South African authorities information on criminal elements without getting a backlash.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs disclosed that the South African government condemned the crisis in very strong terms, which it dubbed Afrophobia, and assured Nigerian government that it was working to address it, as investigation was on-going.
He also stated that the African Diaspora Forum (ADF), an umbrella body for Africans living in South Africa, also wanted to key into the Early Warning process because of Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa.
Also speaking, the Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (rtd), disclosed that the two governments agreed on the use of dialogue, and not retaliation, to address such a crisis, considering the historical and strategic relations that exist between the countries.
Gen. Dambazau encouraged the South African government to follow due process in dealing with Nigerians deemed to have committed offences, and stressed that the activities of a criminally-minded few should not be used as a yardstick to profile the behavioral pattern of the rest of Nigerians in South Africa.
He assured the government of South Africa that Nigerians involved in illegal activities were in the minority, as the majority contributed extensively to the economic and political sectors of the country.
While disclosing that Nigeria was working on e-ticketing, a process guaranteed to throw up information on the ticket holder, Gen. Dambazau noted that Nigeria, in pursuit of Ease of Doing Business policy, would not make its visa regime difficult, but certainly not at the expense of its security.
The two Ministers visited the locations of the attack and spoke with the victims, reassuring them of government’s determination to ensuring their safety and welfare in their host country, stressing that the South African government has assured the Nigerians living in South Africa that all measures have been taken to forestall the re-occurrence of such attacks.
Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (rtd) (L) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama (R)