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Xenophobia: Buhari leads 14-man team to South Africa

 Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Paulinus Aidoghie, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari will, today, depart Abuja on a three-day state visit to the Republic of South Africa, following an invitation by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to discuss welfare of Nigerians, and find common grounds for building harmonious relations with their hosts, the Presidency has said.

The visit comes against the background of recent xenophobic attacks, the evacuation of hundreds of Nigerians and the exchange of visits by Special Envoys of Presidents Buhari and Ramaphosa.

While in South Africa, the Nigerian leader will hold a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in the country, with a view to sharing in their experiences and reassuring them of Nigerian government’s commitment to working for the protection of their lives and property and promoting peaceful co-existence.

According to the statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, “President Buhari and his host will preside over the South Africa/Nigeria Bi-National Commission, during which a progress report will be presented. At the end of the meeting, both leaders will sign a joint communiquĂ©.

“The president and his delegation including Nigerian business representatives will also participate at a South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum with their host counterparts.”

Daily Sun gathered that trade relations, security and compensation for victims of xenophobic attacks will be top priorities during parley.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made the disclosure on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, United States.

The issues, according  to Onyeama, will be tabled at the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) during the state visit which both countries hoped to upgrade to Summit level during the visit.

The minister further said the exchange between South Africa and Nigeria will look into how to prevent future attacks on Nigerians, including their properties and ensure the security and compensation for losses incurred.

“There are Nigerians serving sentences in other countries. What we do is to provide consulate assistance if there is legal assistance the consulate can offer,” Onyeama said.

Buhari will be accompanied by three governors, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, Simon Lalong of Plateau State and David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

He will also be accompanied by seven ministers. They are: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd); Minister of Power, Eng. Saleh Mamman; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite; Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi and Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum.

Also on the trip are National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd); Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; and Chairman/CEO Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

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