When Foreign Relations Break Down - Nigeria and South Africa

 Unity and Faith - VS - Diverse People Unite 

I saw some of the discussions on one of my BB groups yesterday with someone making an aside comment going something like "South Africa must go" with reference to the GMG most of us are more familiar with. I wasn't sure exactly what was going on but it seems that tensions escalated overnight with Nigeria practicing a reciprocal or tit for tat model of diplomacy.

I hear that the South African Government threw the first punch when they deported more than 100 Nigerians (all the passengers in an Arik Air to SA flight - including a Senator) for having “fake Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificates”. The Nigerian Government retaliated by sending back 25 South Africans on all the incoming flights yesterday, the number has increased to 44 so far.

Probably fired up by their deported colleague,  the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs summoned the Minister, Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru asking for other tougher actions to be taken against South Africa. The Minister said:
‘Nigeria will take reciprocal action. The Federal Government has summoned the South African envoy to demand an apology and to ensure that the officers involved in the deportation are punished. The Federal Government will not tolerate the maltreatment of Nigerians in any part of the world. This country had done so much for South Africa and we will not tolerate a situation where South African police and immigration officials fuel tensions between both countries. I must confess that we must take tough action against any country that takes delights in ill-treating Nigerians. Nigeria will react in a mature and calculated way on the assault on our people to show that when you show disrespect to our people, we will hit back. They (South Africa) don’t have the monopoly of ill-treating travellers.’
Some comments I've read believe SA is being unfair and confrontational. Yellow Fever cards are just N500 according to the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who has also said that none of the Nigerians deported from South Africa last week was in possession of a fake Yellow Fever card. The cards must have been verified before they were issued SA visas which the SA govt through their Nigerian embassy issued.

Already, Arik Air has temporarily suspended all flights from Lagos to SA over the controversial Yellow Fever documentation. The Nigerian Government is also said to be planning to investigate South African Businesses in Nigeria with a view to taking them over.

Personally, I've never been to South Africa but I've heard of the little ripples of tensions over the past few years. Who remembers the District 9 movie brouhaha? There have also been several instances of reported Xenophobia against Nigerians in SA - it's either they're taking over SA business landscape, or they are the criminal masterminds in SA cities. What is clear is that several Nigerian music videos and commercials are shot in SA on a weekly basis, and some of the biggest multinational companies in Nigeria are South African.

I wonder if SA thought on these, and other legitimate people and business, before their Foreign Relations decided to get in a tiff with Nigeria. What did they expect from the Nigerian end, that the govt would roll over and play dead? Still, I don't know that the government's response is the best, it smacks too much of a reactive reflex. I hope it is not because of a Senator whose ego has been ruffled that the two countries would spoil decades of relations.What is the end-game?

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