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What Nigeria’s recall of High Commissioner to South Africa means

Nigeria South Africa recall

Aso Rock

What Nigeria’s recall of High Commissioner to South Africa means

The Nigerian government seems to have had enough following harsh criticisms of its reaction to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Nigeria has formally recalled its High Commissioner to the country, Ambassador Kabiru Bala.

  • Nigeria has also has pulled out of World Economic Forum on Africa billed for Capetown, South Africa, and which is to hold between September 4 to 6. However, a number of Nigerian government officials are in South Africa for the event.

Backstory: This decision followed a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema in the early hours of Wednesday.

However, the South African Ambassador to Nigeria, in defence of his country denied the reports and gruesome videos of xenophobic attacks against Nigerians circulating on social media.

Bobby Monroe, the South African ambassador in Nigeria described the xenophobic attacks as equal and opposite fight between other nationalities and South Africans.

However, Femi Adesina, the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, thereafter faulted the position of Monroe in a TV interview on Wednesday morning.

What it means: In diplomatic terms, recalling an ambassador to another country means that the country, in protest, has symbolically severed ties with the other country. Practically fuelled by anger on social media, Nigerians have been furious ever since reports of the killings of Nigerians started filing in from Monday that the government was too docile in handling the delicate situation with South Africa.

Citizen’s response

Later on Tuesday, there were reports of angry Nigerians equally burning offices of businesses owned by South Africans such as Shoprite and MTN. The move has prompted Shoprite, MTN, Multichoice and other South African companies in Nigeria to close shop nationwide since the early hours of Wednesday.

MTN’s company secretary, Uto Ukpanah, confirmed reports that there had been attacks on MTN offices in Lagos, Ibadan, and Uyo and that the offices nationwide would be closed until further notice. Also, the chairman of Nigeria’s ruling party, former Governor, Adams Oshiomole called for the nationalization of South African firms in Nigeria.

Nigerian celebrities have also not been left out of the showdown with SA. Nigerian celebrity artistes, Tiwa Savage and ace comedian Basketmouth announced the cancellations of their engagements in the country. which was to hold respectively in South Africa. Another artist, BurnaBoy who recently won the BET best international act award also declared on Twitter that he would never step into South Africa anymore.

Nigeria’s demands

In the meantime, Nigeria which has appointed a special envoy to SA, has made some demands to the South African government. The demands are as follows:

  • That compensation is paid to those Nigerians in South Africa who have suffered from these attacks.
  • And that Nigeria embeds some of her security operatives into the South African security architecture to prevent further occurrence of such ugly attack scenarios.

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