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Calls for caution on tense SA, Nigeria relations

Read time 2min 40sec
Nigerian entrepreneur McEva Temofe.
Nigerian entrepreneur McEva Temofe.

With the looming deadline of the one-week ultimatum to South African businesses by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to leave the country, a Nigerian entrepreneur urges caution from both sides.

McEva Temofe, who has interests in technology, education, agriculture and health, says to accelerate the expulsion too rapidly will be have devastating effects on Nigeria at a time of economic uncertainty.

He tells ITWeb: “MTN, MultiChoice and other South African organisations aren’t causing any problems for Nigerians. They have, instead, created massive employment for Nigerians; they have added to the development of Africa. So I urge any other body, including NANS, to call off such drastic action against companies that have brought such economic development in the country.”

“The South African government should address the situation locally. We are calling for a united Africa.”

Students’ anger in Nigeria was triggered by the death of Elizabeth Ndubuisi Chukwu, director-general of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, at a hotel in Johannesburg on 13 June, with an autopsy report stating she had been strangled.

Reacting to this, students in Nigeria last Thursday, in Yola, Adamawa State, picketed South African businesses, warning them to leave the country in seven days.

NANS threatened to shut down South African business interests in Nigeria by the end of the ultimatum if xenophobic attacks against Nigerians continue.

The students, brandishing placards, blocked the entrance to a Standard Bank branch for several hours.

Nigeria is home to about 120 South African companies, including MTN, Shoprite, MultiChoice, South African Airways and Game.

In Pretoria, international relations and cooperation minister Naledi Pandor denounced the Nigerian students, expressing concern about statements calling for the expulsion of South Africans and protests at South African-owned businesses.

The minister said she had been in contact with Nigerian authorities regarding calls by a student organisation in Nigeria calling for the expulsion of South Africans and protests at South African-owned businesses.

“As you are aware, these allegations are devoid of truth, reckless and unwarranted. We find these statements most unfortunate as they don't reflect the strong relations that exist between the people and the government of South Africa and Nigeria.

“The two countries enjoy strong bilateral relations, which were forged over many years during our struggle for liberation in South Africa and in this democratic era, fully supported by the people and government of Nigeria,” said the minister.

Pandor said the acting high commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, has had several meetings with the police and senior government officials in Nigeria.

“We have also had contact from the highest level of the Nigerian government. We have been assured that authorities in Nigeria are taking these calls for protests seriously. They have also assured us that South African citizens and their property in Nigeria will be protected.”

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