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S’Africa: Beyond The Yellow Fever Certificates – By Arnold Alalibo

By Arnold Alalibo | NNP| March 16, 2012 – The recent diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa, which, in a way, drew the attention of most African countries, indeed serves as an eye-opener to Nigeria.

South Africa has always been in the bad press for some time. The last issue that put them at the receiving end of the pres was the Xenophobia crisis in 2008. South Africans vented their anger on foreigners whom they accused of taking their jobs.

That crisis which began in 2000, claimed at least 67 lives. It was a crisis which caused the displacement of many Nigerians as well as the destruction of their property. The incidence attracted prevalent condemnation of South Africa by many countries, which though they assisted South Africa greatly to attain their independence from the minority whites.

Nigeria was in the four front of the fight against the apartheid regime in that country. Now, the table has turned against her.

The regime of late General Murtala Mohammed put up a dogged and tenacious fight against racism in South Africa in such a manner that people thought he was fighting a personal cause. His commitment to that fight pitched him against some Western nations, who were considered friends of the then white minority regime in Pretoria.

However, just recently, South Africa dealt a blow to Nigeria when it deported 125 Nigerians who arrived the country upon the excuse that they possessed fake yellow fever cards.

Only in December last year, South Africa had accused Nigerian embassy of demanding bribes to approve visas for some members of a local church who were to travel to Nigeria.

The ‘sins’ of South Africa, particularly against Nigeria, might have been kept in view which prompted Nigeria to act swiftly against the renewed hostility. The House of Representatives committee on the diaspora quickly summoned the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbenga Ashiru, demanding for explanation. It was the minister who first gave the hint that Nigeria would retaliate South Africa’s action.

One thing I like about the deportation exercise is that it brought Nigerians together on the same page, regardless of political party, tribe or religion, as they all, with one voice, condemned the act. I think the federal government’s deportation of 56 South Africans for a start, was a good way to tell Nigerians that they are  valued and respected. Now, I know that reciprocity in diplomatic relations is the best policy. Or what else would have made South Africa, to apologise to Nigeria?

In spite of the apology, I would want the federal government to exercise caution in the relationship of both countries. Although the deputy foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ibrahim, had said the news would not affect the bilateral ties of the two countries, I think it should for  now until that country shows sufficient respect for Nigeria.

I am surprised that South Africa would threat Nigerians in such a manner, having invested heavily in her liberation from the apartheid regime. She ought to hold Nigeria in the highest esteem for the sacrifice she made to end racism in their nation.

South Africa has shown enough prejudice against Nigerians in various ways. Nigerians who reside there have always narrated the unfriendly disposition of South Africans towards them. That is why I would not want the matter at stake to be restricted to immigration issues.

After all, Nigeria extends a warm reception to South African nationals here in the country and their economic interests are well protected. It is expected that they reciprocate this gesture to Nigerians resident n their country.

That is the reason I think there is more to the deportation saga than South Africa tells the world. The possession of fake yellow fever certificates by those affected Nigerians is an ostensible reason. The real issue may be the differing positions of both countries on the Libyan crises. This, to me, bothers on the sovereignty of the two countries.

Therefore, if Nigeria does not take a firmer action now, other nations might take a cue from South Africa.

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=19144

Posted by on Mar 16 2012. Filed under Africa & World Politics, Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists. 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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