Nigeria: Xenophobia - Be More Tolerant of Competition, Buhari Advises South Africans

President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted his Nigerian counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari, for a State visit on Thursday October 3, 2019.

President Muhammadu Buhari in South Africa condemns in the strongest terms the attack on Nigerians and other Africans in the country, and calls for implementation of measures meant for the prevention of such a reoccurrence (Photo Credit: Bashir Ahmad on Twitter)

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa, called for tolerance, vigilance and heightened security in countries to ensure the safety of citizens.

He noted that competition heralded by globalisation, especially with ease in migration, will only get more intense for businesses.

Responding to questions during a press conference at the Union Building, alongside his host, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Buhari said authorities should be more pro-active in detecting early signals of violence between competitors, while migrants and companies should adhere to the local laws of countries.

"Police must be on alert not to allow violence to escalate," he said.

According to a statement by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, President Buhari said the business world had turned out more dynamic over the years, with foreigners competing with locals in businesses that were initially considered low.

He said the panacea would only be for security agencies to show more interest in market operations, players and likely areas of tensions.

The president likened the situation of Nigerians in South Africa to Ghana where competition at low levels of the economy breeds intense competition, noting that it will keep growing with population explosion.

Mr Buhari told Nigerians living in various parts of the world, especially in South Africa, to adhere to the laws of the country they reside and ensure compliance with market laws.

"Like it is said, 'when you are in Rome behave like the Romans'. Always be law-abiding," he said.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Nigeria boycotted the World Economic Forum in South Africa which was to be attended by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo after Nigerians suffered attacks in that nation.

The Nigerian government also called for compensation for Nigerians whose businesses were destroyed in the attacks.

The government, however, cautioned its citizens against reprisals after some South African-linked businesses were attacked in Lagos and other cities.

The South African government has also condemned the attacks. Mr Ramaphosa admitted that 10 people were killed in the latest round of violence. The victims include two non-South Africans, he said.

The Nigerian government had earlier said none of its citizens was killed in the attacks although many businesses owned by Nigerians were destroyed.

South African parley

In his remark on Thursday, Mr Buhari condemned attacks on Nigerians and the burning of their properties in South Africa, describing it as "unacceptable", while assuring the South African government that their citizens and businesses in Nigeria will always be protected from harm. He also condemned the reprisal attacks in Nigeria.

"In my discussions with President Ramaphosa and the Bi-National Commission meeting, we reviewed a wide range of issues at national, regional, continental and global levels," he added.

He said some of the issues were on trade, investment, mining, security, police affairs and environment. "Our two countries have also agreed to unequivocally address the challenges in our relations including the recent people to people challenges that saw attacks against foreign nationals, including Nigerians, and their properties, which we strongly condemned."

Ramaphosa's response

In his remarks, President Ramaphosa said the attacks on foreigners in South Africa, including Nigerians, were regrettable, assuring that his government would work hard to see an end to such attacks. He also condemned reprisal attacks in Nigeria.

He said President Buhari is the first president to embark on a state visit in South Africa since they came into power.

"We will work together to promote cohesion and best values. What happened did not reflect our values. We both condemn the attacks and the reprisal in the strongest terms. We will set up mechanisms for early signals," he said.

President Ramaphosa said his country would also create a more enabling environment for Nigerian businesses to thrive in South Africa, acknowledging that more South African companies operate in Nigeria, while Nigerians were mostly in Small and Medium Scale sectors in his country.

"We have large corporations operating in Nigeria while you have small and medium enterprises from Nigeria here in South Africa." He promised to deepen the reforms in his country to open the space for more Nigerian business to address the imbalance".

"The rule of law must be obeyed by all citizens. Nigerians in South Africa must obey the rule of law, while South Africans in Nigeria must obey the rule of law," he said.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, signed agreements at the 9th session of Bi-National Commission.

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