Abuja — The federal government will today begin talks with South African authorities on how to end the recurring xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in that country, which almost led to a diplomatic row between the two friendly nations.
At the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Muhammadu Buhari will today leave Abuja for a three-day state visit to the Republic of South Africa, where the two leaders will discuss the worsening plight, especially xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in the host country and find solutions to them.
In view of the importance Nigeria attaches to the meeting, Buhari is leading a powerful delegation comprising three state governors, eight ministers, top security chiefs and other senior government officials to the bilateral talks.
Presidency sources said that the visit was prompted by the recent xenophobic attacks, the evacuation of hundreds of Nigerians, and the exchange of visits by special envoys of Presidents Buhari and Ramaphosa.
Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said yesterday that while in South Africa, the Nigerian leader would hold a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in the country, with a view to sharing in their experiences and reassuring them of the government's commitment to working for their protection as well as promoting peaceful co-existence.
Shehu, in a statement he issued on the state visit, said that President Buhari and his host would preside over the South Africa/Nigeria Bi-National Commission, where a progress report would be presented. At the end of the meeting, both leaders will sign a joint communiqué, he added.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the federal government will press for the payment of compensation to Nigerians, who were victims of the xenophobic attacks.
In the heat of the crisis, Nigeria's foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, had declared that the federal government would make the payment of compensation to the victims in talks with South Africa.
In the president's delegation are Nigerian business leaders who will participate at a South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum with their host counterparts.
Others are Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, Governor Simon Lalong (Plateau State), and Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State.
The entourage also includes Onyeama, minister of Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd), minister of Power, Engr. Saleh Mamman, minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, and minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum.
The national security adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, and chairman/chief executive officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
The president will return to Abuja on Friday.