- Deal on 10-year visa for businessmen, academics, frequent travellers signed
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Pretoria, South Africa, charged Nigerians in the country and all others in the Diaspora to be law abiding, live decent and dignified lives and also respect constituted authorities of their host countries.
This came as Nigeria and South Africa reached an agreement to issue a 10-year visa to businessmen, academics and frequent travellers from the two countries yesterday.
The president, according to a statement by his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, gave the charge to Nigerians in South Africa when he met with them.
Shehu said the president also tasked his audience to strive to be the best in whatever they choose to do and also deploy their resources, skills and talents to help their country.
The president advised “the few that sometimes gives us a bad name, to desist from such misdemeanours and be our good ambassadors.’’
The statement also said Buhari advised all Nigerians in the Diaspora to always remember their country with their skills, resources and talents, and work towards living decent and dignified lives that bring honour to their fatherland.
It added that the president charged them to be diligent, focused and resourceful in all their engagements, especially by improving their net worth through learning new skills, good education and building their networks positively.
Shehu also said the president described them as ambassadors and the face of Nigeria to the world wherever they reside, adding that the world will pass judgments on Nigeria on the basis of their behaviour and attitude.
The statement said the president told the citizens in the Diaspora that he was shocked by the outbreak of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, describing it as an embarrassment to the African continent.
The president who condoled with those who lost their loved ones in the attacks, said the federal government of Nigeria was disturbed by the attacks which he described as unfortunate, saying the trend compelled the government to take prompt actions.
Buhari, according to the statement, expressed gratitude to the Chairman of Air Peace Airlines, Chief Allen Onyeama, whom he said promptly came to the rescue.
According to him, Onyema demonstrated a sense of patriotism and compassion by offering to evacuate Nigerians affected by the attacks.
Furthermore, Buhari commiserated with those who were injured in the attacks, praying for their quick recovery, and sympathised with those who lost property and other valuables.
The statement which reiterated that the president was disturbed by the attacks, said he told the gathering that some measures had been taken in collaboration with South Africa to forestall a repeat of the attacks.
Buhari also said in line with his directive that Nigerians who did not feel safe should return home, over 500 had been brought back to Nigeria and were now being reintegrated into the system.
The statement, added that Buhari told the gathering, which it said included students, traders, medical doctors, clerics and academics, that an agency had been established by the federal government, headed by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, to interface with them on how they can channel their contributions to the country.
The statement further said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in his remarks, commended the president for the maturity and diplomatic tact he used in resolving the challenge with the South African government.
The statement added that members of the Nigerian community expressed their gratitude to the president for the visit and assured him that they would be more careful in their dealings within the country and promised to work towards harmony at all times.
According to Shehu, leaders of various communities in South Africa, led by Ben Okoli, commended Chief Onyeama, for his quick intervention, and the historic roles the Nigerian High Commissioner, Amb. Kabir Bala and Consul General, Mr. Godwin Adama, played in protecting and providing for citizens.
Meanwhile, the decision to issue a 10-year visa to business by Nigeria and South Africa was a follow-up to the successful conclusion of the ninth Bi-National Commission of South Africa and Nigeria meeting in Pretoria.
A statement by Shehu said the agreement for issuance of the visa was reached at a meeting co-chaired by Buhari and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with a resolve to re-establish a consular forum that will enable regular meetings of Nigerian and South African governments.
The statement read: “At the meeting held at the Union Buildings, Presidential Palace of South Africa, the two Presidents agreed on early warning signals to nip violence in the bud before it escalates, while taking into consideration the need to share more intelligence and promote stronger partnership in security.
“Both countries also agreed to re-establish the consular forum, which is a structured arrangement where both governments meet regularly, at least twice in a year to discuss the welfare of citizens.
“The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr. Naledi Pandor, signed the minutes of the 9th session of Bi-National Commission.”