Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in South Africa on Wednesday for a state visit following the last xenophobic attack on foreign nationals and their properties by South Africans in Johannesburg.
The Nigerian leader and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa will be meeting on Thursday to trash-out bolstering trade ties and political cooperation in part, while concentrating more on the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa which targeted foreigners including Nigerians.
President Buhari was warmly welcomed by South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor after he landed at the Waterkloof military base, very close to the South African capital territory Pretoria.
The state visit which is expected to last for three days was initially scheduled to take place before the outburst of the looting and burning of goods belonging to foreigners, and it is the first by a Nigerian president since 2013.
Few South African businesses operating in Nigeria were made to shutdown temporary by revenge attackers after learning that at least 12 persons died and goods were looted and properties destroyed during the just ended xenophobic attack.
A handful of Nigerians fearfully returned to Nigeria after an aviation transport company ‘Peace’ donated free flight back to Nigeria following the sad incident by South African mob against other African nationals.
The two leaders had dispatched special envoys to each other in which South Africa sincerely offered apologies and promised not to allow such national disgrace repeat itself ever again.
Abuja assured that President Buhari would use the state visit to discuss the “welfare of Nigerians living in South Africa, and find common grounds for building harmonious relations with their hosts. He would also hold a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in South Africa to listen to their experiences and ensure the government is working to protect them.”
President Buhari looks to urge South African president Ramaphosa to pay compensation to the Nigerians affected by the xenophobic attack but one could tell that the South African government looks very ready to reject demands, as the South African presidency never mention the xenophobic violence at all in its announcement of the visit.
Pretoria rather concentrated squarely on efforts to bolster trade and business as Africa’s two largest economies both looks to improve on tepid growth.
Buhari and Ramaphosa will attend a business summit and chair a meeting of the South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission aimed to boost cooperation between South Africa and Nigeria.
South Africa and Nigeria have always enjoyed ties but the relationship grow higher in the early 2000s when former presidents Thabo Mbeki and president Olusegun Obasanjo worked to take a leading role in continental politics.