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Nigeria Will Not Retaliate Against SA – Geoffrey Onyeama

Nigeria will not retaliate against South Africa or any other country over xenophobic attacks by their nationals against Nigerians living in those countries.

Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed this on Sunday at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.

Nigerians living in South Africa have been attacked up to four times since Feb. 5, while those living in India suffered similar attack on March 27 over the death on an Indian student.

Onyeama said “It has not been something that has been part of our way of behaving.

“I would often say that Nigerians, we tend to be much friendlier to foreigners than even to ourselves. So it’s never really been an issue.

“With regard to South Africa, there was a demonstration but that was really all.

“I would like to think that Nigerians will not start targeting innocent citizens for no other reason than that they are nationals of the countries in which some Nigerians were attacked.

“We are better than that and so far we have proved better than that.”

The minister also said that the ministry was putting in place modalities to ensure that Nigerians abroad got fair treatment through Nigeria’s embassies and missions.

He said complaint about services was not limited or peculiar to embassies alone but something that needed general change of behaviour.

He also said “Unfortunately, this is not something that is peculiar to embassies; the service culture is something we have to work on in Nigeria, it is obviously not something that comes naturally to us.

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“Even here in Nigeria, in almost every sector, we get a lot of complaints.

“There have been a lot of complaints at our embassies and I have met with the Minister of Interior for us to issue joint directive to all our embassies and missions.

“This is because the people who provide the consular services are very often from the immigration service and not actually Foreign Service officers.

“Which is why I am cooperating with the Ministry of Interior on that.”

He however said that the ministry had always reminded Foreign Service officers that they were service providers and should behave as such.

“We are absolutely insistent that we have to remember that we are service providers and we have to provide those services in a very professional way.

“We spoke to this new batch of ambassadors-designate reminding them of what these embassies, consulates and missions are; they are service provision hubs,” he added.

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