By; IYOKPO J. EGBODO, Abuja.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives delegation which is to soon visit South Africa over the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians has disclosed that it hope to have a lasting solution to the problem afterwards.
The committee at a media briefing yesterday in Abuja, through its leader, and Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajamila explained that “We will attempt to meet with the South African Parliament to discuss the possibility of both our countries enacting hate crime laws. This would cover crimes committed based on nationality.
“We intend to engage the SA Parliament and other authorites on areas of mutual benefit and how much both countries could lose from xenophobia and possible retaliatory actions or severing of diplomatic ties. This delegation will seek to strengthen the Nigerian /South African Bilateral Commission which only exists on paper for now.
“We hope to meet with Nigerians who reside in SA and assure them of governments intervention. We will advance and hopefully get a commitment on the need for payment of compensation for the victims of this last attack….and are hopeful that we will come back with positive developments”.
Fielding questions from journalists on Nigeria government’s next step if the engagement fails, Gbajamila said “for me I always have a positive mind and if it fails, let’s assume the worst case scenario, at least it will be for want of trying, the national assembly will be accused ‘where were you guys when this was happening in South Africa?’ At least now, we are doing something out of the ordinary, and again we are hearing ‘why are you doing it’. Let’s look at when it succeeds we will all be the happier for it”.
And on what is Nigeria’s fear of taking actions to match what is being done to Nigerians in South Africa, the lawmaker responded; “No one. But retaliation is not the first step to diplomacy. Cutting of ties and retaliation are always the last resort, it will always be on the table but it will be last resort”.