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Editorial from S/African Newspaper: Diplomatic Row-Nigeria in the wrong

Editorial from the Sowetan (South African Newspaper)

OUR government has opted for a short-cut diplomatic strategy in its attempt to appease Nigeria.

This after 125 citizens from the West African country were refused entry into South Africa.

They were deported soon after immigration officials at OR Tambo International Airport queried the validity – or lack of – their yellow fever certificates. Such certificates are a normal requirement for international travel.

The move by the immigration officials triggered an unnecessary overreaction by Nigeria. A retaliation committee was set up to plot how to hit back at South Africa. The Nigerian press joined in the unseemly fray. Copious amounts of articles were written about the uncouthness of South Africans.

Some Nigerians went to the extent of suggesting that South Africa had no moral high ground to effect deportations on the basis of yellow fever certificate requirements because of its highest rate of HIV infections in the world. And so the garbage went on in Nigeria against South Africa’s good name.

In addition, many South Africans landing in Abuja and Lagos were deported for no apparent offence. It was a string of unmitigated childish reactions. The whole saga was threatening to soil the otherwise good diplomatic relations between the two countries.

But the decision by the South African government to apologise to Nigeria in a bid to end the crisis is nothing but a knee-jerk response. Why must our good name be sacrificed at the altar of diplomatic expediency?

Will Nigeria apologise for deporting South Africans for no apparent reason?

The South African government may think tendering an apology would normalise relations between the two countries. But it won’t. In fact, the Nigerians will be emboldened. They will feel they have won the bout.

This could have a negative impact on law enforcement in South Africa. Law enforcement agencies at ports of entry might get the wrong message that all foreigners, bar Nigerians, should be subjected to stringent immigration regulations.

This Nigerian exception could spark a quiet domestic resentment against Nigerians who are already battling a negative tag – real or perceived – of being associated with banking scams and drugs trading.

The tension between the two countries requires diplomatic maturity on both sides. They need each other politically and economically.

We urge our government to demand an apology from Nigeria for deporting South Africans and for all the attacks we endured as the furore was unfolding.

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=18929

Posted by on Mar 12 2012. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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