By Danladi Al-Hassan
President Muhammadu Buhari is in South Africa to discuss the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in the country with his host, Cyril Ramaphiosa.
The attacks is expected to be on top agenda when Nigeria and South Africa hold their Bi-National Commission summit on Thursday,. The summit will be presided over by Buhari and Ramaphosa.
The meeting would also develop strategies and finalise agreements on an advance warning system on xenophobic attacks.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement said that Buhari would today (Wednesday) embark on a three-day state visit to South Africa on the invitation of Ramaphosa.
The visit, which is coming on the heels of the xenophobic attacks, the evacuation of over 500 Nigerians and the exchange of visits by special envoys of Presidents Buhari and Ramaphosa, was expected to finalise all relevant draft agreements and memoranda of understanding on defence and security, energy and socio-economic matters, trade and politics.
While in South Africa, Buhari would also discuss the welfare of Nigerians, and find common grounds for building harmonious relations with their hosts.
The statement said, “President Buhari and his host will preside over the South Africa/Nigeria Bi-National Commission, during which a progress report will be presented. At the end of the meeting, both leaders will sign a joint communiqué.
“The visit comes against the backdrop of recent xenophobic attacks, the evacuation of hundreds of Nigerians and the exchange of visits by special envoys of Presidents Buhari and Ramaphosa.
“While in South Africa, the Nigerian leader will hold a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in the country with a view to sharing in their experiences and reassuring them of the Nigerian government’s commitment to working for the protection of their lives and property and promoting peaceful co-existence.
The President and his delegation, including Nigerian business representatives, will also participate in the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum with their host counterparts.
Ferdinand Nwonye, Spokesman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained that discussions at the BNC would revolve around trade, investment, security and the xenophobic attacks in parts of South Africa.
“The bi-national commission is an annual summit between Nigeria and South Africa. They discuss various issues that border on trade, investment and other things that may arise,” he said.
“If there are new issues around the xenophobic attacks, they may be discussed extensively and I think the outcome of the meeting will determine if there will be another batch of evacuees that will return to Nigeria. If at the end of the day, everybody agrees with the discussions, there may not be any need returning anybody.”
Buhari wwas expected to be accompanied on the tip by governors Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Simon Lalong of Plateau and David Umahi of Ebonyi states, as well as some of his ministers and special advisers.
Meanwhile, over 700 Nigerians, who indicated interest to be evacuated from South Africa, are still waiting to be airlifted.
Adetola Olubajo, the President of the Nigerian Union South Africa, Adetola Olubajo, stated that there were no more attacks and that protests had not been violent as the South Africans are embarking on fence mending and bridge building.
“For instance, today (Tuesday), there was a protest march in Durban, but there is nothing besides government and civil organisations trying to mend fences and build bridges so that there will be proper social integration of people who are displaced,” he said.