Mixed reactions greeted the diplomatic row with a host of groups asking Nigerians to boycott South African goods and services as MTN and DSTV in retaliation.
Among those who spoke yesterday were the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and a host of others, who spoke during a Ray Power FM programme monitored in Lagos.
CPC, MURIC, others react
Describing the raging diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa, as "another sign of Nigeria's fading glory," the CPC in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Engr Rotimi Fashakin, said the deportation of 125 Nigerian citizens on the excuse of possession of fake Yellow fever vaccine certificates after subjecting them to humiliating ordeal at the South African port of entry with 'no food', 'no water' for up to 24 hours was odious and unacceptable.
Said CPC: "What was irregular in this case was that the presentation of the yellow fever certificate is sine qua non to the issuance of the South African visa; the hapless Nigerians (including children on excursion) were issued visas before their formal deportation. With the probability of error tilting more on the negligence of the South African embassy staff and not the Nigerians validly issued visa, the South African authority could have saved the day by offering inoculation service for a fee; the humiliating treatment of the Nigerians was odious and therefore, unacceptable!"
President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Aso Chambers, State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 07/03/2012
Consequently, the party enjoined the government to apply the principle of reciprocity as a potent foreign relations instrument to assert Nigeria's sovereignty and craving for respectability. "Whilst the South African state had, in the past, unleashed this regime of Yellow Card inspection on intending Nigerian visitors (despite the WHO's certification of Nigeria as free from Yellow fever), it is vitally important that intending South African visitors to Nigeria should henceforth be certified free from the prevalent diseases in South Africa like HIV and Tuberculosis. Finally, it is our considered opinion that, as part of the mutually agreed settlement of this furore, the South African authority must adequately compensate these traumatized Nigerians that have been so shabbily treated."
Speaking in like manner, MURIC leader, Dr Is-haq Akintola, said the South African action was shocking, inhuman, unwarranted and provocative and urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to evolve measures capable of immediately addressing the arrogance of South Africa.
"MURIC therefore suggests that Nigeria takes the following steps: that a similar number of South Africans entering Nigeria (125) must be deported within seven days; that the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs must summon the South African High Commissioner to explain the inhuman treatment meted out to those 125 Nigerians.
"The Federal Government must demand apology and the payment of damages unless South Africa pays damages to the 125 Nigerians who suffered both physical and psychological trauma during the unfortunate incident failing which Nigeria must report South Africa to the African Union and finally to the International Court of Justice; Nigerian citizens must show solidarity to the 125 victims of South African inhumanity by boycotting South African goods and services like MTN and DSTV; and Nigerians must learn from this ugly incident and change their retrogressive mind set, review their culture of waste and adopt zero tolerance for corruption."
Nigerians differ over retaliatory measures
However, some Nigerians yesterday expressed divergent views on the current diplomatic face-off during a Ray Power FM programme monitored in Lagos.
Those who spoke in favour of the retaliatory measures embarked upon by the Federal Government said it was an insult for the South African authorities to treat Nigerians with disdain after Nigeria used her resources to fight the Apartheid regime which oppressed them.
Arguing that the South African government was not in any position to determine whether the yellow fever cards presented by Nigerians were fake or not, the callers said that Nigeria had not been declared a high risk area for yellow fever by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
Nigeria awaits outcome of Pretoria talks
Meantime, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, is now awaiting the outcome of the talks between the Nigerian High Commission and the South African government in Pretoria, South Africa over the diplomatic row occasioned by the deportation of 125 Nigerians from South Africa, last week.
A source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed late last night that the outcome of the meeting which entered its second day, yesterday was being awaited by the Nigerian authorities and would form a critical input into the direction of the relationship between the two countries, in days ahead.
BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, PATRICK OMORODION, LAWANI MIKAIRU and WAHAB ABDULLAH