Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari will embark on a state visit to South Africa as part of the efforts to put an end to incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in that country.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this wednesday in Abuja during an interaction with the media shortly after he was inaugurated.
The minister who refused to reveal the date the president would be embarking on the trip, also stressed the need to establish a hotline between the two countries.
Onyeama stated: “We have to have a hotline between ministers and the minister of South Africa. We have to be on hotline. So, if we feel that the South African government at the highest level needs to act, then we can get in touch with them.
“But more specifically, as regards to south Africa, our president has accepted to go on a state visit to South Africa and the South African president, the former and the present one elevated our bi-national commission with south Africa from ministerial level to presidential level.
“So, what we are looking at is a special relationship between South Africa and Nigeria that can be also a game changer for African the same way the Franco-German alliance has been the engine of the European Union.
“We want to see a situation where that will be the case. South Africa, and Nigeria are driving Africa economically, and socially for the next 50 or so years and in that framework, we need to address the issue of security of Nigerians in South Africa at the very highest level. When the two presidents are engaged on this, I think all those below that have to do something or will be forced to do something.”
Onyeama noted that while there was a trust deficit between the Nigerian Union in South Africa and the South African police.
He said it was important to get the two working together to address this issue
The minister explained further that Citizen diplomacy would be a major priority in the next four years, while the ministry would equally continue to engage various countries to ensure repatriation of stolen funds.
According to him, “for this, I will like to see us have a 24-hour help desk so that every Nigerian anywhere in the world will have a number that they can call whenever they are having any issues of any kind and that will be managed from a central point and transferred immediately to wherever we will be able to provide that solution. As a help-desk for every Nigerian anywhere in the world – if they have complaints, that it is going to be addressed at the highest possible level.’’
Onyeama stated that the ministry would provide oversight over all Nigerian agencies around the world to ensure that they are providing the best services they can for Nigerians.
“In that context too, we have to look in particular the security of Nigerians in all the countries around the world. We are going to be a lot more aggressive and robust in engaging with countries to ensure that the human rights and security of Nigerians anywhere in the world is respected,” Onyeama assured.
On the economy, he said that the federal government would develop what he called Nigeria Economy Development Initiative, adding that the ministry would play a key role in promoting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria, while also leveraging on the physical presence of the country in about 100 countries around to promote export for Nigerian businesses.