Johannesburg, South Africa: Ezeali Ndubueze Jonas Udeji, Onowu Ndigbo, South Africa and Founder, Ohaneze Ndigbo, South Africa has stated that the diplomatic blunder committed by the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama when he visited South Africa in March, 2017 was unhelpful in resolving the continued xenophobia in the Rainbow nation.
Ezeali Udeji, the Onowu (Traditional Prime Minister) of Ndigbo in South Africa and as well a patron of the Nigerian Union South Africa, while speaking to our correspondent in an exclusive interview from his Palace in Elandspark, Johannesburg frowned at the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister’s poor handling of issues during his visit to the country in the wake of xenophobic attacks on African immigrants, especially Nigerians in 2017.
“According to initial agreements and in line with international best practices as well as established protocol, leaders of the Nigerian community in South Africa were waiting to have a meeting with him before he proceed to meet the South African Government.
“Unfortunately, Onyeama only came to meet us after having met with the South African Government in the company of Abdurahamn Dambazzau, the then Minister of Interior.
The Nigerian community leader in South Africa and a strong member of the ruling South African political Party, the ANC said he had told Onyeama then that his claim then that xenophobia would end in South Africa following his intervention was false.
“I told Onyeama that he merely came to inform us of the outcome of his meeting with the South African Government and for a photo session.
” If he really was in South Africa to handle our problem, how come he never bothered to meet us first in order to be be armed with first hand information before proceeding to meet the South Africans?”
Recall that after meeting with the then South African minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had asserted that Xenophobic attacks in South had been effectively addressed.
This was based on the agreement between the two countries to set up an Early Warning Unit (EWU) to tackle xenophobia.
The EWU comprising representatives of both countries is meant to gather information of likely crisis before they happen and send same to the bi-National Commission at the Heads of state level for necessary action.
Unfortunately, the EWU has not been put in place, two years down the road. Perhaps, if not for the 2017 Onyeama diplomatic blunder, the Nigerian Government may have realized earlier than now that the South African Government was tacitly backing xenophobia.