Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Five issues to be attended to as President Zuma tours Nigeria.

Zuma 1
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is on a two-day state visit in Nigeria. Zuma was accompanied by his ministers of trade and industry, international relations, defence, home affairs, and mineral resources, as well as captains of industry. 

Zuma 2The South African leader’s visit has been termed as historic, and analysts have said that the presence of a strong ministerial delegation is a sign of a desire to resolve mutual complaints. Nigeria and South Africa shares very strong historical ties, however, those bonds tends to have been severed by certain recent events. Hence, below are five very important issues that must be brought to the fore within the course of this remarkable visit by President Zuma. Continue.......

1. Xenophobia: President Muhammadu Buhari has received President Zuma at the presidential villa in Abuja, the duo are said to be in a closed door meeting. There is alot that must be brought to the table, however, the issue of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa would be of top priority. Many Nigerians in South Africa have called on the federal government to prevail on the South African authorities to avail adequate compensation for victims of the 2015 xenophobia outbreak. It would be recalled that some South Africans accused immigrants of taking jobs and opportunities away from them which resulted in attacks that saw some foreigner in South Africa killed and property destroyed. 

According to the Nigerian Union in South Africa, about 50 Nigerians were affected by the xenophobic attacks in 2015. The President of the union, Ikechukwu Anyene, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Anyene said that the April 2015 xenophobic violence affected some Nigerians in South Africa, expressed regret that none of them had been compensated. “For some years now, a lot of Nigerians in South Africa have been victims of assassination by unknown people and rogue officers of the South African police service,” Anyene noted. The violence followed reported comments by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, stating that foreigners should pack their bags and leave. Though the South African government has done a lot of work to curb the xenophobia, foreign residents (Nigerians inclusive) are of the believe that xenophobia still remained a huge challenge in South Africa. 

2. Boko Harm and security reinforcement: President Zuma is on the state visit in Nigeria alongside his minister for defence; security especially against terrorism is a global subject matter, hence would also take central stage in the dialogue between Zuma’s team and their Nigerian counterparts. Earlier on there were reports that the Chief of South African National Defence Force, General Zakaria Shoke, re-affirmed his country’s willingness to work with Nigerian Armed Forces to the benefit of the two countries. General Shoke made this known when he visited the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin in his office in Abuja. The South African military chief promised to support Nigeria in its quest to end Boko Haram in the country. Shoke further maintained that his armed forces remains committed to the development of the Nigerian military in the area of capacity building, exchange programme and logistics support, among others.  

3. Reviving the economy: Nigeria is in dire need of an economic miracle, hence a discussion on possible deals to help Nigeria diversify its economy away from oil would be a welcomed dialogue. President Muhammadu Buhari has been seeking various ways to help save the dying Nigerian economy. Under Goodluck Jonathan, President Muhammadu Buhari’s predecessor, Nigeria became Africa’s leading economy after a re-basing exercise of the GDP. However, the global fall in oil prices has slashed government revenues, severely weakening the naira currency and driving up the cost of living. Hence, President Zuma’s visit presents yet another opportunity for Nigeria to strike deals that will help boost the country’s economic growth. On his two-day visit in Nigeria, Zuma is expected to address the Joint Session of the National Assembly of Nigeria, and will together with President Muhammadu Buhari address the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum. President Buhari will be looking to broker some economic deal from the South African President’s visit 

4. MTN VS Nigerian government:  There is an ongoing legal battle between South Africa’s telecom giant MTN and the Nigerian government regarding MTN’s Nigeria operation. The South African telecom firm was recently handed a $3.9billion penalty in October 2015, for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards. MTN which is trying to negotiate a settlement, has so far paid out $250m but according to Al Jazeera, its headline earnings for last year took a hit as a result. Like MTN, some other South African firms in Nigeria have reportedly complained of being targeted by the government, a development which Zuma and his contingent would be looking to resolve. 

Zuma 65. SCOAN building tragedy and South African visa restrictions: One issues that will not go untended to, is the case of the SCOAN building collapse which led to the death several South African citizens. There have been official criticism of Nigeria’s response to the deadly building collapse in Lagos in 2014. Eighty-one of the 116 victims were South African nationals, and Pretoria said their bodies were not repatriated quickly enough. The founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet Temitope Joshua (TB Joshua) had been taken to court on a trial over the collapse of the refurbished six-storey building inside his church premises in 2014. However, the man of God had constantly been absent from the court. On the Nigerian side, there have been complaints about South African visa restrictions, while in April 2015 the two nations became embroiled in a spat over the recall of Nigeria’s two top diplomats. The South African government had condemned Nigeria’s decision to recall its ambassador following some hostilities, terming the move as “unfortunate and regrettable” and said it “would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode”. Ahead of Jacob Zuma’s visit to the National Assembly, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has brought today’s plenary to an abrupt end to enable principal officers of both Chambers meet before his arrival. Zuma is expected to arrive the National Assembly by 3.00pm. Security has been beefed-up in and around the National Assembly and movements have been restricted.


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