Nigeria has 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.
Although South Africa’s police minister and high commissioner to Nigeria said the attacks on foreign nationals were acts of criminality, President Cyril Ramaphosa told business leaders on the sidelines of WEF in Cape Town that South Africa must quell attacks on foreigners.
“Taking action against people from other nations is not justified and should never be allowed in our beautiful country. … We need to quell those incidents of unrest,” Ramaphosa said.
A day earlier, he tacitly acknowledged the attacks were xenophobic but that the government would not allow them to fester.
“We are a country that is completely committed against xenophobia,” he said. “We do not allow and cannot tolerate attacks on people from other African countries.”
Nigeria’s initial tepid reactions to the latest waves of attacks irked a large percentage of Nigeria’s youthful population, with many calling for the government to send a strong message to South Africa.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to meet Ramaphosa in October. But he planned on sending a special to the country to discuss the attacks on her citizens.
But the boycott of WEF signalled a new direction in the handling of the matter.
Apart from pulling out of the World Economic Forum, Nigeria is also expected to recall its ambassador to South Africa.