Following successful conclusion of the 9th Bi-National Commission of South Africa and Nigeria meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, which was elevated to the level of heads of state, both countries have agreed on issuing 10-year visas to businessmen, academics and frequent travelers.
The agreement was reached in a meeting co-chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, which was the first time both presidents will preside since the Bi-National Commission was elevated.
Meanwhile, President Buhari, Friday in Pretoria, South Africa, advised all Nigerians in the Diaspora to always remember their country with skills, resources and talents, and work towards living decent and dignified lives that bring honor to their fatherland.
The President, at a meeting with Nigerians in South Africa, charged them to be diligent, focused and resourceful in all their engagements, especially in improving their net worth through learning new skills, good education and building their networks positively.
The decision to issue 10 year visas was taken to encourage more people-to-people contacts among citizens of both countries and further strengthen socio-cultural, economic and political relations.
At the 9th Bi-National Commission of South Africa and Nigeria meeting held at the Union Buildings, Presidential Palace of South Africa, the two presidents agreed on early warning signals to nip violence in the bud before it escalates, while taking into consideration the need to share more intelligence and promote stronger partnership in security.
Both countries also agreed to re-establish the consular forum, which is a structured arrangement where both governments meet regularly, at least twice in a year, to discuss welfare of citizens.
Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, signed the minutes of the 9th session of Bi-National Commission.
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Pretoria, South Africa, advised all Nigerians in The Diaspora to always remember their country with skills, resources and talents, and work towards living decent and dignified lives that bring honour to their fatherland.
The President, who met with Nigerians in South Africa, charged them to be diligent, focused and resourceful in all their engagements, especially in improving their net worth through learning new skills, good education and building their networks positively.
At the meeting with Nigerians in Pretoria, Buhari said: “First, you are our Ambassadors and the face of our country to the world wherever you are. The world is therefore, watching you and would make judgments on Nigeria based on your comportment and actions.
“Second, in whatever legitimate engagement you find yourself, you must strive to excel and be the best.
“Third, while you are out in the Diaspora, do not forget home. You represent some of the best human asset that Nigeria has. With your education and exposure to the world, you are at the cutting edge of technology.
“I, therefore , urge you to use your resources, skills and talents to help the development of Nigeria,’’ he said.
President Buhari told the gathering, which included students, traders, medical doctors, clerics and academics, that an agency had been established by the Federal Government, headed by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, to guide them on how to actualize their contributions to the country.
The President said he was shocked at the outbreak of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
“The recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa.
“It was an embarrassment to the continent. Let me again use this medium to condole with the families of all those who lost their lives over the years in such tragic incidents. May their souls rest in peace,’’ he added.
President Buhari also commiserated with those who were injured, praying for their quick recovery, and sympathized with those who lost property and other valuables.
“As a government, we are quite disturbed by these very unfortunate events and have taken actions and measures to address this issue and prevent their re-occurrence with the South African government.
“I had earlier directed the evacuation of Nigerians who do not feel safe to remain here. Over five hundred have returned home and are being reintegrated into their communities.
“At this juncture, I wish to express my profound gratitude to Chief Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace Airlines, who showed compassion and patriotism by immediately offering to evacuate our Nigerian brothers and sisters who had been affected by these xenophobic attacks,’’ he said.
He assured Nigerians that the South African authorities had expressed their apologies over the incidents and resolved to take necessary steps to end the ugly trend.
“We have just inaugurated the Nigeria/South Africa Bi-National Commission at the level of Heads of State with a firm determination to further bring our two countries together in a mutually beneficial partnership. Let us therefore give peace a chance and pray we have seen the last of this ugly violence,’’ the President said.
President Buhari also called on all Nigerians to be law abiding and respect constituted authorities of other countries, urging “the few that sometimes give us a bad name, to desist from such misdemeanours and be our good ambassadors.’’
In his remark, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, commended the President for the maturity and diplomatic tact he used in resolving the challenge with the South African government.
He said the government had put in place a mechanism to ensure that the unfortunate incidents were never repeated again.
Members of the Nigerian community thanked the President for the visit, assuring him that they will be more careful in their dealings within the country, and work towards harmony at all times.
The leaders of various communities in South Africa, led by Ben Okoli, commended Chief Onyeama, for his quick intervention, and the historic roles the Nigerian High Commissioner, Amb. Kabir Bala and Consul General, Mr Godwin Adama, played in protecting and providing for citizens.