A FORMER Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) to Liberia and ex-Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Akin O. Fayomi, has urged Nigeria and South Africa to revive their moribund Binational Commission (BNC).
He said the BNC, which began during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was designed to give diplomacy a chance.
The former AU top diplomat insisted that if the BNC is activated, “all manners of issues affecting the two countries and their citizens will be on the table for discussion”.
It was first held at the level of the vice presidents of the two countries – Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Vice President Jacob Zuma.
Fayomi, in an interview with Daily Afrika, said the BNC covers diplomatic relations, including political, economic, military, trade and investment, consular matters, diaspora issues, cultural, among others.
The retired diplomat said: “The African Union Commission has been curiously silent on the whole issue of xenophobia. Not even a statement has been issued! Obviously, it is powerless. I don’t think we should wait or rely on the AUC or any of its organs like the African Commission on Human Rights before we take actions. Obviously, our destiny is in our hands.”
According to him, the Federal Government’s response to the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa is in the right direction, “although rather measured”.
Fayomi said: “I believe that diplomacy and dialogue is the way to go, but we should wield the big stick at the same time. While recalling our High Commissioner to that country and sending to them a special envoy are encouraging. The government needs to do more.
“We should let the Government of South Africa know the repercussion of their inactions. We know that they can do much more to stop these xenophobic or Afro-phobic attacks on our people, but they seem to be folding their arms; calling it criminality, making inciting statements and all that.
“We should let them know that we can go beyond dialogue and resort to suspending diplomatic relations; closing down some or all of the South African-owned business entities in Nigeria; expelling all their nationals in our country.
“However, we must give diplomacy a chance. In this case, a more vigorous approach will be to resuscitate the moribund Binational Commission (BNC) that we have with South Africa. This began during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was at the level of the vice presidents of the two countries – then Atiku Abubakar and Jacob Zuma.
“The BNC covers the whole gamut of diplomatic relations, including political, economic, military, trade & investment, consular matters, diaspora issues, cultural, etc. If the BNC is activated, all manners of issues will be on the table for discussion.”