The Federal Government has said that it has no plans yet to cut its diplomatic relationship with South-Africa.
The Federal government revealed this through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama, when he met with the Senate Committee on Diaspora, Civil societies and Non-governmental Organisations.
Onyeama spoke with journalists on Friday after a closed-door meeting with the Senate Committee on Diaspora, Civil Societies and Non-Governmental Organisations.
The minister said that the Federal government was committed to exploring available options aimed at bringing a lasting solution to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
“Today (Friday) we met with Senate committee and reviewed the situation in South Africa, and examined all the possible options and the causes of these attacks and agreed on a road map of moving forward.
“Mr. President has dispatched a special envoy who would be holding a high-level discussions with the South African government. The result of the discussion would give the government a basis on which further action should be taken.”
The foreign minister further stated that no Nigerian live was lost in the xenophobic attack.
The minister said: “We know for a fact that no Nigerian life has been lost, but we are extremely concerned now that there would be adequate compensation for the properties that have been lost or damaged.
“We know that a private Nigerian airline (Peace Airline) is making available a plane at the disposal of those Nigerians who are ready to take the opportunity to leave South Africa, but that is totally voluntary.
“Based on our meeting with the distinguished senators, we have been exploring some other options; we have to ensure that this would be the last time that we shall ever be meeting to talk about all these attacks in South Africa and take necessary measures.”
Also speaking on diplomatic ties with South Africa, Onyeama confirmed that the Federal government was not close to considering severing its diplomatic relationship with South Africa.
He said: “We are not by any means at a stage of breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa.
“We shall wait for the envoy to return; there are different actions that can be taken at the diplomatic level without necessarily breaking diplomatic ties. After assessing all the facts and of course the way the South African government responded will be very important in helping us take a final decision.”
Furthermore, the minister said the Federal Government would demand compensation from the South African government for all Nigerians affected by the attacks.
The minister said: “The Nigerian government will be demanding that the victims be compensated. Now, this is a very important issue because the South African government has been reported to say that nothing provides for them legally to provide compensation for these people.
“The South African authorities said that they would have to resort to the insurance companies or any related private arrangement. As a government, we are going to challenge that decision.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Diaspora, Civil Societies and Non-Governmental Organisations, Senator Ajibola Bashiru, representing Osun Central, while also briefing journalists said the Senate would ensure that Nigerians affected by the attacks got compensation. He said that the Senate and the Federal Government would jointly seek a permanent solution to the re-occuring attacks.
The Senator said: “As a committee on Diaspora, Civil Societies and Non-governmental Organisations, we actually called this meeting with the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and his team to brief the committee on behalf of the Nigerian Senate as regards the incident in South Africa, what has been transpiring and the steps that have been taken.
“We are assured that based on credible information from the Nigerian Mission in South Africa, no Nigerian life was lost, although there were damages to property and there’s already an on-going effort to assess the extent of damage to those properties and with a view to making a clear demand to the South African government to give compensation to those whose properties have been damaged.
“Fundamental in resolving this matter is to appeal to Nigerians not to take the law into their hands as emphasised earlier by the committee on Diaspora to the Senate.
“In terms of evacuation, we also join the private airline (Peace Airline) – the Federal Government is assessing the situation and will also – be ready to support them in whatever effort, while ensuring that whatever steps we take, we must weigh the advantages and disadvantages and how they will promote the interest of Nigeria.” (The Sun)