The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama has declared that the Federal Government won’t sever diplomatic ties with South Africa over the recent xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in that country.
The minister however hinted of strong push for compensation from the South African government for Nigerian victims of the attacks.
Speaking with journalists shortly after a meeting with the chairman of the Senate Committee on Diaspora, Senator Ajibola Bashiru, the minister said that a wide range of diplomatic moves were being made by the Nigerian government to get the South African and her citizens realise the need to prevent such attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in the future.
According to him, the range of diplomatic steps being taken by Nigeria had not in anyway got to the point of severing diplomatic ties with South Africa.
“We are not thinking to the stage of diplomatic ties call off now. There are various options. We are not by any means at a stage where we are breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa” the minister emphasised.
Onyeama however said that despite the decision of the South African government not to pay compensation to the Nigerian victims of the attacks, the Federal Government would still pursue the option by all means.
“The Nigerian government will be demanding that the victims should be compensated.
“This is important despite the position of the South African government that there is no provision for that by their own laws. They will definitely be made to resort to other insurance companies or other private arrangements for that .
“So the options that are being considered are weighty enough to ensure that the government of South Africa is alive to its responsibility on the rule of law but not in anyway relating to severance of ties”, the minister added.
He appealed to Nigerians eschew retaliation in the interest of both countries, particularly considering that fact that about 800,000 Nigerians are presently resident in South Africa.
The minister said, “Fundamental in resolving this matter is for us to appeal to Nigerians not to take laws in to their hands.
“As it has been stated in the earlier statement on committee of Diasporan in the Senate, we need to exercise restraint as Nigeria is a leader in Africa and as a country, we must also show that we are responsible as two wrongs can never make a right. So we appeal to Nigerians to remain calm”.
Also speaking on the Diaspora committee of the Senate, Ajibola Bashiru, said diplomatic options were the best approach to the problem and not retaliation or diplomatic face off.
“As we are today, from reliable information, not less than 800, 000 Nigerians are living in South Africa. So if you want to take a decision, you must be able to protect their interest because they have been tied to the South African society for many years .
“So when you are taking decision you have to take a decision that will promote the interest of all Nigerians that are in that country”, the senator said.