Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed details of his meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African citizens residing in South Africa.
Obasanjo said he recently made a courtesy call to the South African leader, adding that Ramaphosa agreed that his country had made a mistake and that his government was making frantic efforts to correct the error.
Obasanjo also said that the South African leader agreed that it was urgent for Nigeria and South Africa to establish a “Bilateral Commission” to further strengthen relations between the two countries.
Obasanjo spoke with journalists on Saturday at his residence, Pent House in the Presidential Library of Olusegun Obasanjo (OOPL), Abeokuta.
He added that he was told that no Nigerian lost his life, but scores lost their property.
“I believe the President of South Africa did the right thing to quickly send emissaries to apologize to the countries that are affected; countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, and I think this was good. I took the opportunity of being in South Africa about three or four days ago to pay a courtesy call on President Cyril Ramaphosa and he quickly granted me the opportunity. One of the major things we discussed is this issue of xenophobia or Afrophobia.
“One good thing I discovered among many is that the president said to me that “there are so much at stake and whatever mistake we have made, we have to correct it.
“And I think that was a very good statement and I know that he meant it because he immediately said look what can we do or should we do?
“Of course, one of the things they are going to do between South Africa and Nigeria is they are going to have what we established in my term we called it ‘Bi-lateral Commission’.
“They have raised it during my time; it was at the second echelon level of vice-president, the deputy president.
“But, now they have raised it to the president level and I understand that our president would be there within the first week of October.
“I think that is good because they can iron out that issues that must not be left undealt with.
“The other thing that I found talking to our Consul-General was, fortunately, in this particular incident, there was no Nigerian who lost his or her life which is good enough, but a lot of them lost properties.”