*Ramaphosa: Xenophobia embarrassing
*Buhari okays immediate evacuation of all willing Nigerians
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency Monday unveiled the message conveyed to South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Envoy, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, which had hitherto been shrouded in secrecy.
Abubakar, who is the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), was dispatched to South Africa in the wake of the xenophobic attacks by South Africans against their fellow Africans including Nigerians.
According to Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, the special envoy, who was in Pretoria from September 5 to September 7, among others, conveyed to Ramaphosa, the president’s deep concern about violence against Nigerians in his country.
Highlighting the message delivered by Abubakar and the response of Ramaphosa, whom he said described the attacks as embarrassing, Adesina said the NIA DG conveyed:
“The deep concern of President Buhari and Nigerians about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property/business interests in South Africa.
“President Buhari stressed the need for South African Government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations.
“President Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it.
“TheSpecial Envoy conveyed the assurance of President Buhari that the Nigerian Government is ready and willing to collaborate with the South African Government to find a lasting solution to the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law abiding Nigerians and indeed Africans in general, against all forms of attacks including xenophobia.
“President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian Government will guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria.”
Adesina also narrated the South African President’s response to the envoy’s message, saying Ramaphosa “agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing.”
He also said the South African President told the envoy that his government completely rejected acts of xenophobia which he said undermined not only the country’s image but also its relations with brotherly African countries.
According to the statement, Ramaphosa did not only reaffirm his stance against criminality but also expressed his commitment to doing everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.
Adesina also disclosed that the special envoy also interfaced with his South African counterpart where they both reviewed the situation of foreign emigrants in general and Nigerians in particular.
According to him, they agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property.
He also added that Buhari had taken note of the report and consequently instructed the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue to engage appropriate authorities on concrete measure the South African Government is expected to take.
Adesina also said Buhari gave an instruction for immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home.