South Africa has faulted the decision of the federal government to recall its high commissioner, saying it would communicate diplomatically with Nigeria when Muhammadu Buhari becomes president in May.
The country also taunted President Goodluck Jonathan over the Chibok saga, saying: “We hope that the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram will someday be reunited with their families.” Recalling that it did not take a similar action when many of its citizens where trapped during the collapse of a guest house at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, it described the reaction of the Nigerian government as “unfortunate and regrettable”.
“The South African government takes note that the outgoing government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recalled its acting high commissioner to South Africa,” read a statement issued by Clayson Monyela, spokesperson of the department of international relations and cooperation. “A government resorts to such an extraordinary diplomatic step to express outrage at actions or behaviour of another government.
“We are not sure which actions or behaviour of the South African Government the Nigerian Government is protesting. It is only Nigeria that has taken this unfortunate and regrettable step. If this action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country, it would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda.
“Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has just returned from Indonesia to attend the Africa-Asia Summit and the 60th Anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference. At no stage did the Nigerian delegation present at that gathering, express its intention to formally raise the issue with the South African side.
“South Africa remains committed to a strong bond of friendship and bilateral relations with Nigeria. It is for this reason that when 84 of our citizens perished on Nigerian soil, we did not blame the Nigerian Government for the deaths and more than nine (9) months delay in the repatriation of the bodies of our fallen compatriots, or for the fact that when these bodies eventually returned, they were in a state that they could not be touched or viewed as required by our burial practice.
“We will raise our concerns through diplomatic channels with the new administration that will assume office in Nigeria next month.”
In a manner that appears to be a mockery of government’s handling of the insurgency in the country, the statement added that South Africa has been able to bring the xenophobic attack under control and has been receiving support from other African countries.
“Through our interventions, relative calm and order has been restored,” the statement read.
“We are encouraged by the solidarity our country continues to receive from other African countries and the international community. “We shall also continue to support and not blame the Nigerian government as it battles to deal with Boko Haram that continues to kill many innocent civilians. We hope that the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram will someday be reunited with their families.”
Nigeria and South Africa have been having difficult diplomatic relations attributed to rivalry. The countries clashed over the course of action in the disputed Cote d’Ivoire elections in 2011 as well as the overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi as Libyan leader.
South Africa also deported Nigerians over failure to provide valid yellow fever immunisation cards at entry point, an action Nigeria replied in kind.