Nigeria

Onyeama explains El-Rufai, Fayemi WEF attendance in South Africa

Onyeama explains El-Rufai, Fayemi WEF attendance in South Africa

Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama Thursday said the participation of Kaduna and Ekiti State governors at the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in South Africa is not a counter decision to the Federal Government’s decision to boycott the event.

Onyeama explained that Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and his Ekiti State counterpart Kayode Fayemi and other individuals were already in South Africa before Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was told not to represent Nigeria at the three-day forum due to anti-foreigners attacks in South Africa.

“The forum started a long time ago and the governors were already there before our decision was taken,” Onyeama told State House correspondents in Abuja.

Nigeria pulled out of the World Economic Forum holding in Cape Town, South Africa, days after it said it was going to take “definitive measures” on the xenophobic attacks on her citizens in the country.

“Nigerian government has boycotted the World Economic Forum holding in Cape Town, South Africa,” President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide on New Media Bashir Ahmad said on Wednesday. “Some individuals from Nigeria including a former Minister are attending on their own.”

Rwanda, Congo and Malawi earlier announced that they will not attend the event because of the latest xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals and their businesses. South Africa’s neighbour Botswana told her citizens “travelling to South Africa to exercise extreme caution in light of recent developments resulting in violent unrests.”

Zambia also called off a planned football friendly with South Africa.

While former Nigeria education minister Obiageli Ezekwesili and other Nigerians at the WEF, Onyeama opined that attendance at the event is discretional for individuals because it was not organised by South African government.

He stated that the non-attendance of Nigerian government officials was to register its displeasure against the xenophobic attacks suffered by Nigerians in South Africa.