Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo says he expects the proposed meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African equivalent, Cyril Ramaphosa, to address the issue of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in the former apartheid country.
The former Nigerian leader said this on Saturday as he answered questions from newsmen at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
“The meeting that President Buhari and President Ramaphosa will have during the first week of October should smoothen the ground and the right statement and the right action coming from both sides should encourage our people to go back,” he said.
“My joy is that President Ramaphosa is ready to do what needs to be done to stop this ugly incident and to put the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa on the right track.”
Obasanjo, who had visited the South African president earlier this week, told journalists in Abeokuta he was confident that the October meeting of the two leaders would provide the much-needed avenue for smothering of their near strain relationship over xenophobia.
The former Nigerian military head of state also said he supported the calls for compensation for those whose businesses were destroyed during the recent attacks in South Africa.
But Obasanjo asked Nigerians to be law-abiding wherever they find themselves.
“As I have always said, Nigerians living outside Nigeria must try to be good citizens of wherever they live,” he said.
“And when I was president, when I met Nigerians abroad; I said look, being good citizens of the country in which you live and then, tie to when you will be good citizens of the world and when you come back home, you will be good citizens of Nigeria.”
Attacks on Nigerians, other foreigners in South Africa
In early September, there was tension between the two countries over the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.
Assets belonging to Nigerians in the country were targeted, triggering retaliatory attacks against South Africa-linked businesses in parts of Lagos, Ibadan, and the capital – Abuja.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, later summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, over the attacks, before President Muhammadu Buhari sent an envoy to the country over the issue.