Kogi State Governor, Alh. Yahaya Bello has urged Nigeria and South Africa to “lock themselves down in bilateral engagement” in order to find “a lasting solution to the alleged xenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa”.
The Governor made the call through a statement by his Director General on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo in Lokoja, Friday, saying the two African giants cannot afford strained relations.
“Reports of xenophobic attacks in South Africa are of grave concern to Nigeria and Nigerians. As the two African giants, diplomatic engagements must be immediately switched on by the two nations to douse growing agitations over the unfortunate incidence.
“The two nations can achieve a lot working together and South Africa must also believe they have business interests across Africa. The world has become a global village and Nigerians must be as safe in South Africa as South Africans are in our nation.
“We are aware of efforts by the South African authorities to douse the rising tension between citizens of the two countries, which is a clear indication of the fact that the government and people of South Africa recognize Nigeria’s leading role in the war against apartheid. Together, we are stronger”.
The Governor also urged Nigerians to show the world an example in “diplomatic restraint”, assuring that the Federal Government will do everything within its powers to protect Nigerians anywhere around the world.
“We are the giant of Africa and we must show great diplomatic restraint in addressing sensitive issues such as the xenophobic row between Nigeria and South Africa. We cannot afford to plunge the continent into crisis when we have worked to restore peace around the world.
“Attacking South African interests in Nigeria will not solve the problem of xenophobic attacks. We believe dialogue and public orientation in South Africa will help enlighten their people on the need to see Nigeria as a partner in progress. Our people are highly industrious anywhere they are and they have contributed immensely to the progress of South Africa”.
He called on the international community to lend their voices to the call on South Africans to see xenophobia as “another form of injustice against fellow humans”.