Xenophobia: House of Reps may opt for doctrine of reciprocity

Though desirous of a deep legislative relationships with South-Africa, the House of Representatives is upbeat about Nigeria exploring the doctrine of reciprocity if all diplomatic options fail to curb attacks on its citizens living in South Africa. The House arrived at the decision following the outcome of its ad hoc Committee on the attacks on Nigerians and looting of their property in South Africa.

The committee, headed by the Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, went to South Africa where several revelations were discovered following meetings with various government establishments and groups with the sole aim of carrying out its mandate to the letter. It also met with former President Thabo Mbeki. The high powered delegation was asked to remind South Africa of the consequences of these ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerian citizens and the likely resultant repercussions. The Committee was also asked to make it explicitly clear to the South African Government that Nigeria undoubtedly has no intention of abandoning her citizens in South Africa to the mercy of nationalists, mobsters and radical militants taking the law into their hands in a sovereign and democratic country.

The trip made it the first time that the parliaments of both countries had engaged in such a manner and it was even more regrettable the circumstance that had made such a meeting expedient. The delegation also met with the Nigerian Union in South Africa which gave it an insight into the plight of Nigerians in South Africa to the extent that the activities of very few notorious Nigerians often led to the maltreatment of the majority of other law abiding and very hardworking Nigerians. The Nigerian Union stated that in view of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Nigerians add value to the South African society via various important fields, like the academics, medicine, legal, engineering, business, and artisans and so on, it was very paramount to protect the lives of Nigerians in the country.

At the end, the Ad Hoc Committee found out that majority of Nigerians living in South Africa are law abiding and are involved in various facets of the South African society including professionals adding value to the country in meaningful sectors like health, engineering, Information Technology etc.

In view of its findings, the Ad Hoc Committee took its report to the floor last week where most of its recommendations were adopted. It was recommended that the House evolves legislative instruments such as hate crime laws to promote tenets of solidarity, support and protection for Nigerians living in diaspora towards finding lasting solutions to the crisis in South Africa and other similar cases.

“The House directs the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Consulate in South Africa to work together with their South African counterparts, where expedient, in helping to quickly resolve matters regarding passports as well as regularizing migrant status of Nigerians, particularly those with South African spouses.

In his closing remarks Gbajabiamila said, “The Ad-hoc Committee wishes to state that the issue of parliamentary diplomacy is one that has evolved to stay, since most countries of the world have adopted democratic governance. For this reason, inter-parliamentary relations must go beyond the confines of attending conferences and seminars of international and regional parliamentary associations.

As earlier noted, building on this latest attempt can only expand the frontiers of engagement in the vast issues of parliamentary diplomacy. It will thus help to resolve the crisis in South Africa, serve as a reference in future; and this newly found working relationship is expected to further tighten the Union between the two nations and African as a whole”.

The House was in consonance with the recommendations of the ad hoc Committee with the adoption of the report.


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