Ladies and gentlemen of the South African media

Dear Colleagues

Invited guests

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

 

INTRODUCTION

I count it a great honour to welcome you to the Residence of the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Johannesburg. It is my privilege to engage you today in this media launch, which is put together to facilitate interactions between the Nigerian Consulate and the South African public through the media. We acknowledge the key role the media plays in every society; hence we have invited you for this engagement, with the hope that the interactions will allow us the opportunity to share our experiences as an agency of the Nigerian government, inform about our work, our aspirations and challenges, and most importantly, allow us to inform about the state of affairs in Nigeria, her relations with South Africa and their aspirations. It is also hoped that it will provide the opportunity for us to receive the perception of South Africa of Nigeria and especially, of the relationship between our two nations.

  1. This meeting may not be able to cover everything, but it should strive to examine the salient elements of the work of the Consulate vis-à-vis its statutory activities in South Africa. I hereby welcome you to this Media Launch and hope that you will enjoy our cuisine. It should have come much earlier, but for the initial challenges of my settling down on arrival in South Africa due to some diplomatic and security challenges that were on ground even before my arrival, necessitating that I went to work even before I had had time to plan my approach.

Arrival and Commencement of Duties

  1. I officially assumed duties as Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg on 1st March 2017. Before my arrival, there were issues of attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas in February that left many Nigerians homeless and their properties and homes destroyed. The situation posed serious security problems which our two countries needed to manage, and this absorbed my time immediately on arrival. Happily, the situation was brought under control following the visit to South Africa, of the Nigerian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior and members of the Nigerian National Assembly.
  2. I have since then, settled to my work, which includes providing for the

wellbeing of Nigerian citizens in the country, through provision of consular and immigration services to them, as well as working with the South African

authorities to facilitate cordial relationship between our two governments and our nationals. So far, we have managed with these responsibilities, but not without occasional difficulties, especially, as it regards the security of the lives and property of our nationals in the country. So far, we have achieved modest results in our cooperation with the South African authorities in this regard, but there is room for improvement.

 

Nigeria/South Africa Relations

  1. On the overall, relations between Nigeria and South Africa are very cordial, leveraging on their historic and fraternal bonds. Bonded by the providence of being the two biggest economies in the continent as well as key plays in regional and continental and global issues, South Africa and Nigeria have understood the

need to work together to promote the needed unity and development of the

African continent, and the political leaders have continued to collaborate in this

endeavor.

  1. Nigeria has continued to provide opportunity for South African peoples and

businesses to operate and grow in the country and it is hoped that Nigerian

businesses will in due course, enjoy similar opportunities in South Africa. Nigeria

is appreciative of the accommodation and opportunity South Africa has provided

to the Nigerians resident in the country, and hope that in the African spirit, it will

continue to facilitate comfort and security for them in order to make them

contribute even more productively to the South African society.

  1. It is in this regard, that our two countries should strive to encourage all

necessary action that could provide the pedestal for regular engagements and

activities that would promote the needed development of our two countries. The

Nigeria/South Africa Bi-national Commission is a veritable instrument which

unfortunately, has remained a lame duck in the quest for that platform for

promoting and strengthening the relations between them. There is therefore the

urgency for the conclusion of discussions on the issue and for the lunch of the

meetings under the commission.

 

NIGERIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA

  1. South Africa has welcomed and accommodated a good number of

Nigerian nationals, many of whom, have obtained legal residence and earn a

living in South Africa. Nigeria is grateful for the hospitality. Many of these

Nigerians are professionals in different fields, and their contributions have

modestly lent support to the sustenance of those sectors. The Health and

educational sectors bear resounding testimony to this.

  1. However, the recent wave of violent attacks on foreign nationals in the

country, including Nigerians have tended to dent the historic brotherly relations

that have existed between out peoples. Our nationals have in the past five

months suffered various attacks in various provinces leading to loss of lives and

property. In Cape Town alone for instance, the death on Wednesday, 16th

August, made it the 7th Nigerian killed in similar circumstance. In all of the

cases, the investigations have remained inconclusive, and no one has been

apprehended and prosecuted for the violence, let alone convicted.

  1. The Nigerian Government is disturbed by this development, and it is hoped

that the South African government will wade into the issue in order to restore

confidence in the people. The efforts of the South African Government towards

containment of the seeming xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in parts of the

Gauteng province earlier in the year is nonetheless, commendable and should

be sustained.

 

NATIONALIZATION OF CRIME

  1. May I use this opportunity to mention that crime and criminality are human

phenomenon that have no particular national or racial character. It therefore

cannot and should not be ascribed to any people as a national identity. Doing so

would be prejudicial, unnecessarily sentimental and a trajectory of injustice and

abuse of the Rule of Law. As is normal in every society, there are good and bad

people, and to lump everybody together and treat them with the same

prescription would be unjust.

  1. The government of Nigeria deplores crime in all its ramifications and would

condemn it where ever and whenever it is committed regardless of who is

involved. However, it frowns at a situation where her nationals may be generally

criminalized and pre-judged even before the process of the law is followed. Every

suspect should be given the right of defense through the due process of the law

and punished accordingly if found guilty. It considers the killings of Nigerians

One too many, and would not accept the situation as it is any longer. We

therefore wish to call on the South African government to do the needful to bring

all the perpetrators of these needless killings of Nigerians in the country to

immediate justice.

 

NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT CHANGE INITIATIVES

  1. Upon inauguration on May 29, 2015, the current Government of Nigeria

under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari swung into action in

the three Agenda-based critical areas of Security, Anti-corruption and the

Economy and even within a short period, achieved great results, as it seeks to

reposition Nigeria.

 

Anti-corruption

  1. i) Government has sustained the war against corruption, despite great

resistance from the corrupt elements in the society. Between May 29, 2015 and

25 May, 2016, a total of recovered loots were put at: N78.3 billion; $185.1m

USD; and 3.5 million Pounds. Amount expected to be repatriated from

Switzerland, United Kingdom, UAE and USA stands at N115 billion. The Federal

Government, through the whistle-blower policy, has so far recovered

$151million and N8billion of looted funds. Recently, N47.2 billon and $487.5m

has been recovered from another corrupt former public officer holder. An

unprecedented number of high profile prosecution is on-going, and the number

is still counting and there is no relenting.

 

Economy

  1. ii) The Nigerian economy is on the upswing. The country is almost out of

recession, inflation is falling, unemployment is falling and the Foreign Reserve is

rising. Growth is in sight, and with corruption being fought to a standstill, the

economy is set to for its greatness again.

iii) In its current drive to diversify the economy from oil, the country is focusing

on the development of non-oil sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals and

mining, and already, these are yielding interesting dividends. For the first time,

Nigeria is now exporting yam to about four countries at commercial quantities.

Cashew is also now registering on the export index as a major export commodity,

while rice is set to be another major Nigerian export commodity. With Nigeria

already achieving self-sufficiency in rice production through the massive

investment in the crop, it is set to start exporting rice by the end of this year.

  1. iv) South Africa, no doubt, has great experience in agriculture and Mining, and

the developments offer South African investors huge investment opportunities

in Nigeria. We therefore urge South Africa entrepreneur and investors to

leverage this opportunity and spread its investment in these areas to Nigeria.

Let me remark that the government has put in place various policies to ease

doing business in Nigeria which includes relaxing its immigration requirements

to facilitate easy entry into Nigeria for prospective investors. Already, the

Consulate has since started implementing the government policy on this, and

for every applicant that wishes to visit Nigeria now, if such intending visitor meets

the visa requirements, the visa application is processed within 48 hours

Security:

  1. v) The Boko Haram insurgency has been degraded and normalcy has since

returned to the Northeast of Nigeria, which was hitherto controlled by the Islamic

militants. The Militancy in the Niger Delta has also been greatly subdued through

constant dialogue and engagement of the Federal Government, and the relative

peace and security in the country bears testimony in the improving economic

conditions of the country

 

ACTIVITIES OF IRREDENTIST GROUPS

  1. In recent time, there have been some agitations in Nigeria, including calls

for separation by some individuals and groups thus fueling hate speeches and

acrimony that could affect the peace of our country. These developments are

believed to be attributes of a developing democracy, and reason why the

government has been tolerant of them. It is expected that these agitations

reflect the genuine concern for discussions on how to continually improve our

democracy, and should engender reasonable, non-violent and peaceful

processes that will strengthen our common Nigerian nationality. However, the

government will not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law against any one

or group that attempts to disrupt the peace and unity of the country.

  1. The Federal government will continue to uphold the principles of

inclusiveness, equal opportunities, political participation for all Nigerians

predicated on the federal system of governance and constitutional democratic

practice in operation in the country.

  1. Friends of Nigeria are expected to help ensure that divisive elements and

groups which activities could upset the peace and tranquility of Nigeria and

could undermine Nigerian sovereignty are not provided the accommodation and

support to make them thrive in their divisive enterprise We call on the Nigerians

in South Africa who may have such tendencies or are already engaged in any

such activities to desist forthwith, as we are better together than apart.

 

THE CONSULATE AND SERVICE DELIVERY

  1. Having said all these, let me inform that the Consulate in Johannesburg is

in the upswing with a new approach to service delivery. With the support of a

very dedicated staff, we aspire to change the narrative of service delivery in the

consulate. Already, we have reduced the burden of consular charges to both

Nigerians and South Africans who apply for consular and immigration services,

and drastically reduced the duration within which those services are rendered.

Production and issuance of Nigerian passports to Nigerian applicants which

hitherto, took as long as six months to one year with untoward hardship on

Nigerians is now done within one week and in certain cases, within the same

day. We are working on further reducing the period of wait.

  1. As earlier mentioned, in addition to reducing the charges on Visas for

intending visitors to Nigeria, the consulate now processes all visa applications

within 48 hours in line with the Nigerian government directives.

  1. Other consular services are now taken directly to Nigerians wherever they

live, and the processes of providing those services have been simplified. Within

the limits of the consulate’s resources, it will continue to render assistance to

deserving individuals and Nigerian groups which it necessarily partners with to

make life easier for our nationals in the country.

  1. I wish to use this opportunity to reiterate the calls to all Nigerians in South

Africa to be law abiding, and to reciprocate the generosity of South Africa by not

engaging in any criminality and unlawful behaviours, but to engage in legitimate

businesses that will continue to uphold the honour and dignity of our country.

 

PRESIDENT MOHAMMADU BUHARI

  1. Finally, I wish to use this opportunity to thank the government and people

of South Africa for their understanding and prayers during the period of our

President’s health challenges. It was a trying experience for us as a country and

people, but by the grace of God, the President is back in his health and I am

happy to inform you that he will be returning to Nigeria today from his medical

vacation in the United Kingdom.

 

I thank you for your time.

Thank you very much.

 

GODWIN. A. ADAMA.

Honourable Consul General.

South Africans could learn a thing or two from Nigeria about tolerance and treating foreigners well, says Nigerian consul general Uche Ajulu-Okeke.

In fact, her consulate is busy establishing a cultural centre where South African wives can learn to say “I love you” to their Nigerian spouses in that country’s many languages.

During a discussion about xenophobia on Tuesday night, the consul general, who is based in Johannesburg, said: “Nigeria is the one country in Africa where you will not be asked for your papers.”

Her office, she said during the talk at Wits University, issued 900 visas a month for South Africans to visit Nigeria.

“We must be able to tolerate each other,” she said.

Ajulu-Okeke said there was a protocol of free movement between countries in west Africa.

“When you drop into that melting pot, nobody wants to know who you are or where you’re from,” she said.

In South Africa, however, because of apartheid, “you are still segmented”, she said. “You need vibrancy.”

Read more ...

On Thursday 11th of December 2014 the Nigerian Voice Newspaper put together the first ever Nigerian community Christmas Carol Evening. The event took place at the Church Auditorium of Glory Christian Centre in Pretoria.

The Consul-General Her Excellency Ambassador Uche Ajulu-Okeke attended the well-organized event as the Special Guest of Honour. Addressing the audience, she stated that “I am very proud of the organizers of this event, it is a well-organized and entertaining event, and we I will continue to support such wonderful initiatives that will make Nigerians proud of their identity” .She concluded “I am delighted I attended this event and that I came with my family and also with a Director from the Presidency as it afforded me the opportunity to interact with Nigerians and friends of our dear country outside official duties”.

Performing at the Community Christmas Carol Evening were Tshwane Gospel Choir, Gloryland Voice, The Favored Band (Nigerian Students University of Pretoria band), Godisang, Ola Sax and Oluomo.

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