By Babatope Falade
“Nigeria needs to stop being a big brother that does not demand loyalty. How can we be a majority shareholder in these African joint ventures and find it difficult to exact desired results to the extent that we get rubbished by nations we helped gain independence?”
It is no news that South Africa treats Nigerians with disdain; deporting us at will, exhibiting xenophobic actions and even seizing reasonable sums of money meant for weapons transaction. There is no doubt that many of the signals from the South African government under Zuma particularly is about foreign policy imperatives and personal vendetta on the part of Jacob Zuma.
Let us start with understanding the historical interactions between both nations. Nigeria helped South Africa to combat the apartheid regime and its policies. We funded the frontline states in Africa. This happened under the Murtala and Obasanjo regime’s with Patrick Dele-Cole often acting as our element of subterfuge. We offered their citizens asylum, education and opportunities in Nigeria and alas Mandela got his freedom Thabo Mbeki had to make his way for Zuma and we are here.
One of the things that changed was Nigeria’s foreign policy from a non-aligned quasi toughness against the western foreign policy under Murtala which led the west to even immorally sponsor Dimka against Murtala resulting in the latter’s death in a bloodfull coup. Nigeria changed from this to a country that is fully aligned to the west, especially after democracy in 1999.
South Africa on the other hand is anti-west, because of the injustice meted to them. The west supported the minority white governments in South Africa and even officially labelled Mandela as a terrorist! Till date the American embassy in South Africa is delighted when South African citizens apply for their visa.
Jonathan supported western actions against Ghaddafi, South Africa opposed it. We preferred Jean Ping for AU chair, Zuma had his former wife; Dr Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma up for the elections. His choice prevailed.
Our economies are competing for relevance with Nigeria ahead after being rebased. All these is promoting rivalry amongst the nations and no one can seem to solve the problem as Nigeria has deported South Africans in retaliation for Nigerians that were deported for no just reason.
The issue now is simply how we can get a solution to this issue. I see that under Mbeki we didn’t have these issues because Obasanjo was president and Mbeki can never forget what Obasanjo did for South Africa. They don’t appreciate Jonathan because the old guard in South Africa recognizes only the old guard in Nigeria. However, I think Atiku can do something because of his friendship with Zuma.
Atiku should remind him of how we supported them in dire times and how we still don’t mean any harm. Atiku should let him know that whether he becomes president or not, relations between both countries should not denigrate to trivia. He should ask him to return the seized monies and he should let him know that we still want to be friends.
Lastly, Nigeria needs to stop being a big brother that does not demand loyalty. How can we be a majority shareholder in these African joint ventures and find it difficult to exact desired results to the extent that we get rubbished by nations we helped gain independence? Murtala would turn in his grave. Dealing with countries like South Africa requires drastic, sustainable diplomatic and strategic efforts.
Atiku should tell them we will come for them, if they don’t extend the olive branch in due time. Winter is coming!
Babatope Falade is a communications strategist. He writes exclusively for BREAKING TIMES every Monday in the column, Game of Thrones. He can be followed on Twitter at @topefalade
The opinions expressed by columnists in the published feature – Game of Thrones do not reflect the “OPINION and or “POLICY” of BREAKING TIMES as an online news media publishing establishment. Words on this page remain at all times, the literary expression of the writers’ creative imagination.