President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday accepted South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa’s apology to Nigeria over the persistent xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in the country.
The President, who described the attacks as “very unfortunate”, assured that the relationship between the two countries “will be solidified”.
President Buhari received President Ramaphosa’s Special Envoys – Dr. K. Mbatta and Jeff Radebe – who delivered their leader’s message at a meeting in Aso Villa, Abuja.
They were accompanied by South Africa High Commissioner to Nigeria Bobby Monroe.
The President recalled that Nigeria made great contributions to the anti-apartheid struggles, which were not known to many South African youths.
At the meeting were the Minister of Foreign Affairs Goeffery Onyeama, and Nigeria High Commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Bala.
Many Nigerians and other foreigners lost their lives and properties in the attacks, with many fleeing.
Radebe, who briefed State House correspondents, lamented the attacks and violence, saying that they did not represent the value system of South African people.
He disclosed that President Buhari will visit South Africa on October 3.
“The President has apologized for these incidents, and he has also instructed law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned to ensure that all those involved must be brought to book so that the rule of law must prevail in South Africa.
“He also conveyed his fond memories of ensuring that both Nigeria and South Africa must continue to play a critical role in the rebuilding of Africa to attain the agenda 2063 – the Africa that we want.
“He has also recalled with very fond memories historical ties that exist between Nigeria and South Africa.
“During the dark days of apartheid, we always knew that the Nigerian people and their government always stood behind our leaders who were fighting against the obnoxious system of apartheid.
“Even, Nigerian feminists contributed financially to make sure that apartheid is ended. And though Nigeria is far from Southern Africa, it was regarded as a frontline state because of the principled stand that all leaders of Nigeria made to end the system of apartheid.”
Radebe expressed hope that both countries will explore further avenues for unity when President Buhari visits on October 3.
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, in a statement, said President Buhari recalled roles played by Nigeria in ending apartheid.
He quoted the President as saying: “Going back to historical antecedents, we made great sacrifices for South Africa to become a free state.
“I was a junior officer to Gen. Murtala Muhammad, and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. They were not operating in a democracy, but they got Nigerians to support them in the bid to see a free South Africa.”
The Special Envoy disclosed that 10 people died during the attacks – two Zimbabweans and eight South Africans. He said there was no Nigerian casualty.
South Africa’s Acting High Commissioner to Nigeria, Moroe, said both countries were working toward adopting an Early Warning Mechanism (EWM) aimed at tackling xenophobia.