Nigeria has boycotted the World Economic Forum on Africa 2019 taking Cape Town, South Africa following Xenophobic attacks against its citizens in the last week.
The Forum which kicked off on Wednesday had no Nigerian delegation in attendance as other African countries joined Nigeria in boycotting the event. Some of the other African countries that have pulled out of WEF are Rwanda, Malawi and DR Congo.
As at the time of filing this report, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama to discuss next step on Xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
The Nigerian government is exploring possible options including sanctions against the South African government.
The government is also deliberating over possible actions from within after some Nigerians carried out reprisal attacks against South African businesses in Nigeria including attacks on one of Africa’s largest food retailer, Shoprite, and telecoms giant, MTN, forcing the organisations to scale down operations.
“President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have taken hands-on approach in resolving the Xenophobia issue with South Africa but they want everything done diplomatically,” a source in the Presidency said.
“The boycott of WEF is another strong statement to the South African government and people because the Buhari administration will not stand and fold its arms after attack on any Nigerian citizen. This is the right step in the right direction.
It will be recalled that the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Onyeama met with the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Bobby Monroe, on Tuesday to express his displeasure at the Xenophobic attacks and to also condemn the attacks.
Mr. Onyeama said the federal government expected that such security operatives would eventually be incorporated in the South African police with a view to assisting it in pre-empting future attack against Nigerians.
“We have registered our strong protest to the government of South Africa but most importantly, we have put forward to the South African government what we think will make a big difference,” he said after the two met in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
“One, with regards to compensation for those who have suffered losses and most importantly, a security proposal that we believe will safeguard the security of Nigerians in the future.
“We are hoping to see the possibility of sending some security agents, deploying them initially in the Nigerian High Commission, to work closely with the South African Police Force.”
He dismissed any contemplation by Nigeria to embark on any revenge mission against South Africans or their businesses, saying two wrongs do not make a right.
The minister said South Africa was provoked by the attacks by its nationals and was striving hard to put the situation under control. “We don’t believe that two wrongs make a right. I think in terms of revenge on those kinds of attacks is not what we are looking forward to,” he said, adding that, “The South African government has assured us that they are doing everything possible to address the situation; that they are equally exasperated by the whole event.”