Democracy ‘Would Have Collapsed’ In 2015 If Jega Had Caved In – Garba Shehu

Attahiru Jega                                                                                                                             Garba Shehu

 

 

Mr Garba Shehu believes democracy would have collapsed in Nigeria if President Muhammadu Buhari had been denied victory in 2015.

He said this on Tuesday during his appearance on a special end of the year programme, 2019 End Of A Decade, on Channels Television.

Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, commended the then chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, and the civil society for averting a crisis.

He said, “We thank God for Jega and the civil society activism at that time because if Jega had caved in, this democracy would have collapsed at that time.

“So, it is an interesting time that we had lived through and then, it tells a story of the resilience of our democracy and that we shouldn’t just toy with it. It didn’t come cheap, it didn’t come easy.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Election Management System Is Chaotic – Jiti Ogunye

In his fourth attempt, Buhari defeated then-incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan to become the fourth person to be elected into the office of the President of Nigeria, after former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and late Umar Yar’Adua.

President Buhari contested the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the then main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to unseat Dr Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Prior to the declaration and announcement of the results, Jonathan conceded defeat and called Buhari to congratulate him on his victory at the poll.

Speaking about the APC’s expectations before Professor Jega announced the results, Shehu noted that the party had monitored the exercise closely.

He stressed that the APC was confident of victory at a point, alleging that there were moves by the then ruling party to seize power.

The presidential spokesman said, “For us in the situation room at that time, it was an attempt to grab power or to hold on to power by regime elements or beneficiaries of the system who saw defeat staring them in the face.”

“Before those results got to the INEC chairman and he announced them, you are aware that parties had representatives at the lowest of the point; the polling units and the local councils, and the states.

“They did a collation of their own and they had a sense of how or which direction things were going. So, it was obvious to those regime elements at that time that the regime was falling,” he added.

Top Experts Review Nigeria’s Major Events Of The Decade

 

 

Issues relating to business and politics were discussed on Tuesday during a special 2019 End Of A Decade programme on Channels Television.

The programme is a special broadcast which reviews events in the last 10 years in the country, particularly those that had a significant impact on different spheres of the nation’s existence.

This last decade would probably stand out in the history of Nigeria’s return to democracy since 1999, as one that witnessed some of the most spectacular and unprecedented events, ranging from politics, security, the economy, health, environment, sports, and entertainment among others.

On the programme, Channels Television takes a look at some of the most significant happenings in these areas that have contributed to shaping the nation’s most recent history.

Some of the guests featured on the programme include the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, and legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye, among others,

Watch the video below:

Cabals Are Respectable Nigerians, They Deserve Respect – Garba Shehu 

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu (file photo)

 

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, has denied claims that cabals are powerful people controlling President Muhammadu Buhari in key decision making.

Shehu, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday said contrary to beliefs that cabals manipulate the President, they are respectable Nigerians who deserve respect because they have achieved a lot.

The presidential aide who accused Nigerians of coining the words recalled that people believed former Presidents Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinets were influenced by cabals.

“A lot of people who are being dragged into this cabal thing, they are respectable Nigerians who have achieved a lot for themselves and for the nation. They are not there as hungry people who are there to grab things for themselves,” he said.

READ ALSO: Sowore: Though FG Disagrees With Court Ruling, We Want To Set An Example – Presidency

Shehu who noted that it is a privilege appointed into the President’s cabinet said one wouldn’t have been chosen by the President if not for trust.

He, therefore, warned that Nigerians not to brand people cabals simply because they offered to serve the nation by being close to the President.

“Nigerians have formed the practice by labelling people that are in some advisable positions of the President as a cabal.

“People (cabals) should not be labelled negatively simply because they have offered themselves to support the President of this country,” he stated.

His comments come less than a week he reportedly said there is nothing wrong in having ‘cabals’ around the President Buhari in the daily running of the government.

Sowore: Though FG Disagrees With Court Ruling, We Want To Set An Example – Presidency

The Presidency has reacted to the release of the Convener of the Revolution Now protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore and a former National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki by the Department of State Service (DSS).

While Dasuki was arrested in December 2015, Sowore was rearrested on December 5 after his initial arrest on August 5.

Although both men regained their freedom yesterday, the Attorney General of Justice and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the release was in compliance with subsisting court orders.

But speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration ordered their release despite not agreeing to the verdict of the court.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Govt Orders Release Of Sowore, Dasuki

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu speaks on Sowore and Dasuki’s release. (file photo).

According to him, the act by the Federal Government was to set an important example that to the world that it adheres to the rule of law.

“The government is not compromising anything. The government wants to set an important example of obedience to the law even when you disagree with what the court says you should do,” he said.

When asked to clarify some comments reportedly credited to them that there are some cabals in the current administration, the presidential spokesman accused Nigerians of coining the word.

He recalled that when ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was in power, people also accused his government of being controlled by cabals.

“When Mr Jonathan was in office, wasn’t it said that he had a cabal? When President Yar’adua was in office, wasn’t it said that he had a cabal?

“So what we are saying is that Nigerians have formed the practice by labelling people that are in an advisable position of the President as a cabal,” he said.

Sowore: We Won’t Allow Troublemakers To Incite Nigerians, Presidency Warns

Garba Shehu                                                                                                                      Omoyele Sowore

 

 

The Presidency has insisted that the Muhammadu Buhari administration will not allow any individual or group to incite the public.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, stated this in a Facebook post on Wednesday while clarifying the controversy trailing the arrest of Mr Omoyele Sowore.

Shehu stressed that Sowore, the publisher of online news platform Sahara Reporters, was not arrested as a journalist but for calling for a revolution.

According to him, some international news outlets have been making mistake by describing the release of the #RevolutionNow movement convener as that of a journalist.


RELATED
DSS Releases Omoyele Sowore
Sambo Dasuki Released After Over Four Years In Detention


The presidential aide said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Buhari administration has never, since coming into office in 2015, detained a journalist, seized copies of newspapers or shut down a medium of information.”

“No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilisation in the country and do nothing.

“The government believes strictly in observing the rule of law but must safeguard public security and will not allow troublemakers to incite the public and cause a breakdown of law and order,” he added.

The president’s spokesman accused the activist of calling for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.

Sowore, according to him, did so on television and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely-read digital newspaper run from the United States.

“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow,” Shehu alleged.

He made the clarification a day after the Sahara Reporters publisher left the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) after being held for almost five months.

The DSS released Sowore on Tuesday following the directive of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

Malami gave the directive for Sowore’s release, as well as that of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), who has spent over four years in DSS custody.

The DSS arrested Sowore, the publisher of online media outfit Sahara Reporters, on August 3.

Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, are standing trial on a 16-count bordering on treasonable felony and money laundering amongst other charges.

They have since pleaded not guilty and were granted bail in the sum of N100 million and N30 million respectively.

The DSS had refused to release them on bail even after they met their bail application, forcing Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu to issue a 24-hour order for their release.

Sowore and Bakare were later released on December 5, but the Sahara Reporters publisher was rearrested barely 24 hours after by the DSS.

Read Garba Shehu’s post below:

Put Your House In Order, PDP Tells Buhari

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put his house in order, saying that the public outburst by First Lady, Aisha Buhari, was another signal that the state house is in crisis.

Mrs Buhari on Wednesday in a statement, accused Mr Garba Shehu of shifting his loyalty from President Buhari, to those she said, have no stake in governance.

According to her, Shehu who is the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity has gone beyond his boundaries and is “meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country.”

RELATED: Aisha Accuses Garba Shehu Of Shifting His Loyalty From Buhari

The development, according to the party, showed that governance has failed in the president’s hands.

The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “that the governance of our nation has been ceded to the chaotic and selfish whims of a cabal.”

It added that the “Buhari Presidency has continued to serve Nigerians and the international community with tragicomedies that make mockery of leadership.

“Nigerians can now further see why nothing works under the Buhari
Presidency; why the administration has remained shambolic and plagued
with policy summersaults and executive recklessness; why our economy has
remained comatose and why our nation has been dangerously drifting to
the brinks under President Buhari’s watch.”

The Party decried that since the history of the country, the essence and symbol of Nigeria’s Presidency has never been so stripped and ridiculed.

“The PDP urges President Buhari to immediately put his house in order and
save our nation further embarrassments under his very incompetent,
disorderly and messy regime.”

Aisha Accuses Garba Shehu Of Shifting His Loyalty From Buhari

Mrs Aisha Buhari                                                                                                                 Mr Garba Shehu

 

 

The First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has accused Mr Garba Shehu of shifting his loyalty from President Muhammadu Buhari to those she said have no stake in governance.

She made the allegation in a statement entitled ‘Garba Shehu Has Gone Beyond His Boundaries’ and personally signed by her on Wednesday.

Mrs Buhari also shared the statement on her verified Twitter handle.

 

According to her, Shehu who is the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity has gone beyond his boundaries and is “meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country”.

The President’s wife recalled the incident at the Presidential Villa shortly after she returned from the United Kingdom.

She said Shehu, as her husband’s spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight.

Mrs Buhari, however, alleged that the presidential aide deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for his principal who appointed him in the first place.

She added that Shehu allegedly kept mute to cause more confusion and instability for the President, stressing that “all trust has broken down between him and my family”.

The President’s spokesman has yet to respond to the allegations.

Read the full statement below:

Nigeria’s development is hinged on the ability of public officials to execute their mandates professionally, and to be shining examples in their various areas of endeavour. It is not a good sign when officials abandoned their responsibility and start clutching at straws.

As spokesperson of the President, he has the onerous responsibility of managing the image of the President and all the good works that he is executing in the country.

Rather than face this responsibility squarely, he has shifted his loyalty from the President to others who have no stake in the compact that the President signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015 and 2019.

To make matters worse, Mr. Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so.

The blatant meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country is a continuation of the prodigal actions of those that he serves.

 

Breakdown Of Trust?

We all remember that the chief proponent appropriated to himself and his family a part of the Presidential Villa, where he stayed for almost 4 years and when the time came for him to leave, he orchestrated and invaded my family’s privacy through a video circulated by Mamman’s Daughter, Fatima, the public was given the impression that on arrival into the country I was locked out of the villa by Mr President.

Garba Shehu as Villa Spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight, but because his allegiance is somewhere else and his loyalty misplaced, he deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for the President who appointed him in the first place.

Consequently, his action has shown a complete breakdown of trust between the First Family and him.

Mr Shehu was privy and part of the plan and its execution and he was shocked when he realised that I had publicised my return to Nigeria on October 12, 2019, and cleared the air on the many rumours that took over social media, a job he was supposed to do but kept mute to cause more confusion and instability for his Principal and his family.

Garba then vented his anger on the National Television Authority (NTA) Management insisting that the media crew to my office must be sacked. He succeeded in getting them suspended for doing their job.

I had to intervene to save the innocent staff from losing their means of livelihood by involving the Department of State Services (DSS) in order to ascertain roles played by key actors in the saga.

It is at this late hour that I recall, sadly, that it was the same Garba Shehu who claimed that the government will not allow office of the First Lady to run.

He was later to confirm to one of my aides that he was instructed to say so by Mamman Daura and not the President.

This antic attracted the anger of Nigerian women. He didn’t realise the fact that First Lady’s office is a tradition which has become an institution.

Today, even without a budget, I am able run my humanitarian programmes.

In saner climes, Garba Shehu would have resigned immediately after going beyond his boundaries and powers.

GARBA SHEHU NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR WILL NO LONGER BE TOLERATED.

The latest of his antics was to wage a war on the first family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself.

Based on Garba Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family.

We all have families to consider in our actions and therefore it is in the best interest of all concerned for Garba Shehu to take the advice of the authority, given to him sometimes in the first week of November 2019.

Aisha Muhammadu Buhari

First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria

11th December, 2019

DSS Does Not Necessarily Need Permission Of The President To Arrest Sowore – Presidency

 

 

The Presidency says the Department of State Services does not necessarily need the permission of President Muhammadu Buhari to arrest persons of interest like a detained activist, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

This is according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu.

In the statement, the president’s aide noted that the DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.

Mr. Shehu further stated that it should not surprise anyone who has followed Sowore’s actions and words that the Sahara Reporters Publisher is a person of interest to the DSS.

He said Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.

“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely-read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.

“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow,” Garba Shehu said.

READ ALSO: Sowore’s Rearrest: US Govt Calls For Respect For Rule Of Law

The President’s spokesman argued that no government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.

He further stressed that Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet.

“He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.”

The presidency via its spokesman noted that Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation which he claims Mr. Sowore was advocating.

He said, “To believe in and desire an armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.

“Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS.

“Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.

“The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.

“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in faraway New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu.”

Mr. Shehu in his concluding argument said the Sowore case is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers.

APC Won Bayelsa Fairly, Buhari’s Alleged Blackmail Of Jonathan Is Nonsense – Garba Shehu

 

The Presidency has described as “false and irresponsible’’ reports that former President Goodluck Jonathan was blackmailed to support the governing party, APC, in recent Bayelsa State elections.

Speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media, and Publicity, Garba Shehu, expressed shock that such a story could be considered believable to the point of being given space in some newspapers.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,’’ he said. “Our media really must learn to verify whatever they publish. And people who make wild allegations during interviews should be made to produce the facts backing their claims by editors. A newspaper can be sued for granting space to people who belch false allegations against individuals with no proof.’’

READ ALSO: We Must Stop This Habit Of Blaming Buhari For Everything – Garba Shehu

Shehu said the former president had been out of power for almost five years, without any previous allegations of government blackmail cropping up.

He also noted that there were more than enough reasons for Dr Jonathan to work against his party, PDP, in the just-concluded Bayelsa elections, without interference by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Anyone who has been following the politics of Bayelsa State should be aware of the sour relationship between Dr. Jonathan and the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson. That’s more than enough reason for the former president to decide to work against his party, if indeed he did.

“We really must stop this habit of blaming President Buhari for everything, including issues that are not his business,’’ he added.

We Must Stop This Habit Of Blaming Buhari For Everything – Garba Shehu

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

“We really must stop this habit of blaming President (Muhammadu) Buhari for everything, including issues that are not his business.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, was quoted as saying this during an interview with reporters on Tuesday in Abuja.

He was responding to the various reactions trailing the outcomes of the governorship elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

Governor Yahaya Bello and Mr David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated Mr Musa Wada and Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi and Bayelsa States respectively.

[READ ALSO] Alleged N400m Fraud Case: Metuh To Know Fate In 2020

Speaking specifically about the election in Bayelsa, Shehu faulted the purported reports that former President Goodluck Jonathan was blackmailed to support the APC.

He described such claims as false and irresponsible, wondering how such a story could be considered credible to the extent of being given space in some newspapers.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” the President’s spokesman was quoted as saying in a statement by a deputy director of information, Abiodun Oladunjoye.

He stressed, “Our media really must learn to verify whatever they publish and people who make wild allegations during interviews should be made to produce the facts backing their claims by editors.”

“A newspaper can be sued for granting space to people who belch false allegations against individuals with no proof,” Shehu warned.

He noted that former President Jonathan had been out of power for about five years without any previous allegations of government blackmail cropping up.

Shehu, however, purported that there were more than enough reasons for Dr Jonathan to work against his party in the just concluded election in Bayelsa without interference by President Buhari.

He alleged, “Anyone who has been following the politics of Bayelsa State should be aware of the sour relationship between Dr Jonathan and the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson.

“That’s more than enough reason for the former president to decide to work against his party, if indeed he did.”

VIDEO: Yes, 35 People Were Removed From Osinbajo’s Office – Garba Shehu


The Presidency has revealed that a total of 35 people were removed from the office of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, confirmed this to Channels Television during an interview on Politics Today on Friday.

He, however, insisted that there was no ulterior motive behind the decision, stressing that the relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Osinbajo was intact.

READ ALSOPresidency Confirms Sack Of Osinbajo’s Aides, Gives Reasons

Shehu said, “The fact that you are having less people reporting in the Villa for work does not in any way suggest that there is a split of the relationship.

“How many people were removed from the President’s office? I need to go back and do a check on their number but yes, 35 from the office of the vice president had been indicated as having been asked to leave.”

According to him, President Buhari had always wished that his administration was slimmer and lighter without spending unnecessary money to run governance.

A file photo of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

 

 

The presidential aide denied any rift between the President and the Vice President, saying a divided government would not mean well for the leaders and the nation in general.

He explained that the sole aim of the reduction in the number of political appointees in the office of the Vice President was to save taxpayers’ money and nothing more than that.

Shehu said, “It is not by coincidence that you have a higher number coming from the office of the vice president because he had far more responsibilities than ordinarily with the case.

“So, it is not a relationship problem, it is purely official. The relationship between the President and the Vice President has remain cordial, solid, and a trusting one.”

“It has always been like this, it will continue to be like that. It is in the nation’s interest that we have government that is one.

“Division at the highest level of government is unhelpful. There is no division between them, there is good understanding, and as I said it is a trusting relationship,” he added.

Xenophobia: Garba Shehu Outlines ‘Key Takeaways’ From Buhari’s Visit To South Africa

 

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, on Saturday published an article on President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to South Africa.

Mr Shehu’s article entitled ‘Key Takeaways From President Buhari’s Visit To South Africa’ comes one day after the President returned to Nigeria on Friday after his three-day trip.

President Buhari travelled to South Africa in company with 10 governors and ministers in the face of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in that country which forced hundreds of Nigerians to return home.

READ ALSO: Nigeria, South Africa To Issue 10-Year Visa To Businessmen, Academics

In his article on Saturday, Mr Shehu believes the President’s visit has “ushered in the process of healing of wounds that had festered over time, and upgrading of good bilateral relations to special and strategic levels”.

Read the full text below:

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM PRESIDENT BUHARI’S VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA By Garba Shehu

There were several crucial outcomes from the three-day state visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Republic of South Africa, October 2nd – 4th, 2019, and here are some highlights from the historic journey.

The President, who was accompanied by Governors of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Plateau State, Simon Lalong, seven cabinet ministers, head of the National Intelligence Agency and that of the Diaspora Commission was on a dual mission to undertake a State Visit and Co-Chair, with President Cyril Ramaphosa, the inaugural meeting of the elevated Bi-National Commission (BNC) between Nigeria and South Africa.

In 2016, the two countries had agreed to lead the BNC at the level of heads of state, which was the first ever by Nigeria.

In focus during President Buhari’s visit was a wide range of bilateral, regional, continental and global issues of common interest.

For the first time, in the very historic relations that binds the two countries, this visit sought to, and successfully, established an equation between the two and their leaders. The result seems positive with both leaders acknowledging how the meetings reinforced the historic and strategic relations that exist between them, and the need to strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation. They both proclaimed a perfect meeting of minds.

The meetings took place against the overarching backdrop of the sporadic xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals including Nigerians, which had threatened to rupture the cordial and brotherly relationship between the two countries.

When some countries in the sub-region recalled their ambassadors and threatened to cut ties with South Africa following the xenophobic attacks, Nigeria under President Buhari, chose to act wisely by not taking rash actions. There were doubts in many quarters on the continent, if the South African state understood early enough, the magnitude of the consequences of attacks on their own nation, and Africa as a whole. So for President Buhari, the approach was one of engagement, to assist the government and people of that country to overcome their problem, which by now had become our own, and Africa’s challenge.

President Buhari set the right tone by sending a Special Envoy, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), to obtain first hand facts concerning the condition of Nigerians and to sensitize the South African leadership on the concerns of Nigeria and of the continent as well the implications of the attacks.

After receiving a brief from the envoy, the President decided to proceed with an earlier planned visit, rather than abort it as some had suggested. With the visit, he saw an opportunity to put Nigeria/South Africa relations on a fast track; that if the two largest economies can come closer and work together, they can help one another, and the continent at large to overcome the many problems confronting them. Where there is development, prosperity and jobs among Africans, the backward habits as embarrassingly witnessed in South Africa and reprisal attacks, including Nigeria, would have been avoided. President Buhari did not, therefore, see “an eye for an eye” or a tit-for-tat as a solution.

In appreciation of this approach, many in African leadership, including the African Union have sent messages to the President, thanking him for his enlightened leadership and wisdom in dealing with the matter, and in particular for speaking for Africa.

Arising from their discussions, both leaders condemned xenophobic violence and the reprisals. A solution to the typical violence, in their various pronouncements, lies in poverty eradication, jobs creation, crime prevention, observance of rule of law and lawful migration. The two Presidents directed their Foreign Affairs Ministers to give practical expression to the Early Warning Mechanism for prevention and monitoring platform.

Closely linked to this is the issue of the large number of Nigerians incarcerated in South African prisons, their number still undetermined, and lack of communication from the authorities regarding the process and the status of these arrests. The President requested relevant authorities to alert the Nigerian High Commission and the Consulate-General whenever a Nigerian is arrested, in line with Geneva Convention on Consular matters.

Nigeria and South Africa agreed to exchange a list of frequent travellers, notable business people and academics to facilitate the issuance of long term multiple entry visas for 10 years. There was also an agreement to re-establish the Nigeria/South Africa Consular Forum, with departments equivalent to our own Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Co-Chair), Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian High Commission, the Consulate, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking of Persons, Immigration Service and the Police. The forum will meet two times each year.

The two countries agreed to cooperate in geopolitical matters affecting the continent, on such matters of human rights, reform of the United Nations, migration and security issues, the fight against corruption and terrorism, nuclear disarmament and Western Sahara.

To take full advantage of the Nigerian Presidency of the UN General Assembly, currently led by Nigeria’s Permanent Representative, Professor Tijjani Mohammed Bande, and the South African Chairmanship of the Security Council for October, 2019, they agreed to push for the implementation of Resolution 2439 of the Security Council passed 2017, that called for a High Level Visit to the Lake Chad Basin.

The leaders of the two countries agreed to come closer on defence matters and counter terrorism; to intensify military training cooperation and share intelligence, and to work closely in areas of space technology and cyber security. It is also important to note that that the leaders of the first and second economies on the continent agreed to establish a Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Industry, Trade and Investment. The inaugural meeting of this council will hold in April in Abuja next year. The meeting reviewed and agreed on the terms of reference as well as the operating rules for the council.

President Buhari and President Ramaphosa also tackled the knotty issue of market access. While South Africa is expected to re-submit the items they wish to have removed from Nigerian import prohibition list and want identified legal and regulatory difficulties facing businesses from their country in Nigeria removed, this country equally wants to have similar obstacles faced by Nigerian companies in changed or taken out altogether. Nigeria expressed commitment to open a trade office in South Africa.

Both countries noted the non-participation of Nigerian banks in South Africa and requested such banks to define their interests for determination by the relevant regulatory authorities in South Africa.

The same thing would apply to the aviation sector where the South African Airways has free air space in Nigeria but airlines here say they have difficulties accessing the South African air space. South Africa indicated they will look into all the issues.

The two leaders also took note of the significant footprints of South African businesses in Nigeria in sectors such as telecommunications, mining, aviation, banking and finance, retail, property, entertainment and fast foods. They welcomed business activities of Nigeria’s small, micro and medium enterprises as well as the investment of the Dangote Sephaku Cement in South Africa.

In dealing with the unwanted tide of informal artisanal mining activities, a team from South Africa will undertake a study tour of Nigeria in January next year. Also in the coming year, there will be joint minerals investment road show as well as an in-depth research and study of coal in this country, with Nigeria gleaning from South Africa’s rich experience in the sector.

Nigeria’s proposal for knowledge sharing in the areas of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks in mining and metallurgy sector was also welcomed.

In another significant pronouncement to be welcomed by many, President Ramophosa expressed regrets again and again on the xenophobic incidents and contended that South Africa is an integral part of the African continent: “We should never forget that our fellow Africans have contributed to the development of our economy and that of the region, and that South Africans are helping to develop economies across the continent.”

In a speech that should calm many Nigerians, who daily accuse our African brothers of ingratitude, President Ramaphosa said at the State Banquet in honour of President Buhari that: “We owe our freedom to Nigeria and Africa.” He cited sacrifices made by the country and its citizens “in spearheading the call for sanctions against the apartheid regime in the 70s and 80s following the Sharpeville massacre in 1960,” adding that “without Nigeria, freedom for South Africa would have come at a greater cost and a later date.” He repeatedly gave strong assurances that xenophobic attacks will not be allowed to happen again.

On his part, President Buhari read one of his best speeches in the current times at the banquet, a speech that in no small measure, delighted Nigerians and South Africans.

When he met the Nigerians in Diaspora, the President spoke as a father and a true African leader: “Recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa. It was an embarrassment to the continent. Let me again use this medium to condole the families of all those who lost their lives over the years in such tragic incidents. May their souls rest in peace. I also commiserate with all those who were injured. May God heal their wounds. My sympathies are also with those who have lost properties.

“During my visit here, we have discussed these attacks on foreigners and Nigerians. The authorities have expressed their apologies over the incidents and have resolved to take necessary steps to end this ugly trend in the interest of our relationship.

“We have just inaugurated the Nigeria/South Africa Bi-National Commission at the level of Heads of State with a firm determination to further bring our two countries together in a mutually beneficial partnership. Let us, therefore, give peace a chance and pray we have seen the last of this ugly violence.”

President Buhari’s visit to South Africa has, without doubt, ushered in the process of healing of wounds that had festered over time, and upgrading of good bilateral relations to special and strategic levels.

Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media & Publicity.