BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – The Federal Government on Wednesday took further diplomatic steps to express its anger over the fresh xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by announcing its boycott of the World Economic Forum (WEF) holding in Cape Town, South Africa.
Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was expected to represent Nigeria at the annual summit of leaders and business figures, but cancelled his trip, a day after the Federal Government summoned the South African Ambassador for diplomatic engagement over the unfortunate development.
“Nigerian government has boycotted the World Economic Forum being held in Cape Town, South Africa,” Presidential adviser on new media, Bashir Ahmad said on Twitter.
He however said some individuals and business concerns would be attending the Forum independently.
Nigeria’s decision comes on the heels of announcements by some other African countries, including Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Malawi that they were pulling out of the event.
Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Peter Mutharika of Malawi and Felix Tshisekedi of DRC have all withdrawn from the annual event to express their countries’ anger over the Xenophobic attacks on foreign nationales
Trusted insiders in the Presidency also confirmed that Nigeria is not backing down on its demands that full compensation be paid to victims of the unwarranted and barbaric attacks by the South Africans.
The decision was reached after a brainstorming session by President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo and Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to address the unwarranted and provocative attacks of innocent Nigerians in South Africa.
On Tuesday, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Onyeama had, at a joint news conference with the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Bobby Moroe, insisted that victims of the xenophobic attacks must be compensated.
In explaining the Federal government’s position on the attacks of Nigerians in South Africa, the Minister said, “In the first place, we must address the issue of compensation. There has to be accountability and there has to be responsibility for compensating all those Nigerians that have suffered loss and we are going to absolutely push forward.”
As diplomatic tensions deepened between the two biggest economies in the continent over the anti-migrant attacks in the former Apartheid enclave, the Nigeria Police on Wednesday boosted security and surveillance to check reprisal attacks on South African businesses in the country.
According to the Force Headquarters’ statement, security has been strengthened around these businesses following street actions by some irate youths in several cities against stores operated by the supermarket chain, Shoprite, the telecoms giant MTN and other firms.
Reports of the attacks, looting and burning of businesses allegedly owned by Nigerians in South Africa had on Wednesday morning, sparked off protest in Abuja as some irate youths stormed a Shoprite mall in Abuja to protest the attack on Nigerians in South Africa.
This led to traffic jam in some roads within the Abuja City Centre but the Police prompt intervention in tackling the already tensed situation saved the day. – With agency reports