Africa’s deferred destiny hinges on sound intra-African relations, especially bilateral congeniality between top member states like these two. Sadly, the Abuja-Pretoria nexus has been riddled with sideshows and squabbles over things not worthy of countries in a region supposed to be the world’s last economic frontier.
Writing in a South African Institute of International Affairs journal in 2013, Dr Oladiran Bello and Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari characterised the value of solid Nigeria-South Africa relations by saying: “When Nigeria and South Africa co-operate, they are more likely to deliver continental public goods, including economic development, peace and security.”
This was following the return visit to South Africa by then president Goodluck Jonathan in May that year. Bello and Hengari at the time bemoaned the degeneration of bilateral relations from what they termed Mandela’s “principled stance against Sani Abacha’s dictatorship in the 1990s” to “close and effective engagement” during the Mbeki-Obasanjo decade, to “a low point, with the two continental powers unable to reach agreement on the chairmanship of the AU Commission in 2012”.
Although entrepreneurs and companies have done business in each other’s country, it would be an understatement that the situation described above has continued to deteriorate to the point where Nigerian nationals in South Africa were seen attacking police. During the latest attacks on foreign nationals from the rest of Africa, one would have been forgiven for thinking Nigerians exist solely to sell drugs and commit fraud.