Xenophobia: Why Onyeama failed to honour Reps invite – Foreign Ministry

Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigerian foreign minister says South Africa must act decisively.
Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigerian foreign minister says South Africa must act decisively.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that its minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, did not shun the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Ferdinard Nwonye, the spokesperson for the ministry, said this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

The minister and other officials had been invited by the lawmakers in the wake of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and their ongoing repatriation courtesy of a private airline, Air Peace.

Many Nigerians have criticised the ‘back seat’ taken by the federal government in the safe return of her nationals stranded in South Africa.

Also, many, including the parliament, have also commended the efforts of the private airline for lifting the Nigerians free of charge.

According to Mr Nwonye, “far from the allegation making the rounds, the minister holds the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the National Assembly in the highest esteem and will not snub it for any reason”.

The official said it was not true that the minister refused to appear before the House plenary and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs “to brief them on his efforts to address the plight of Nigerians in the Republic of South Africa”.

“The ministry wishes to inform the public that there is no iota of truth whatsoever in such a charge,” it said in the statement.

Mr Nwonye said via a letter dated September 9, by the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, the minister was invited to a meeting.

He said that the meeting was with the leadership of the House of Representatives scheduled to hold on Wednesday, September 11 at 11 a.m. in the Speaker’s Office.

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Mr Nwonye added that the office of the minister, however, wrote to the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, informing him “Mr Onyeama would be attending the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at that time and that he looked forward to a meeting at a time to be mutually agreed on”.

According to Mr Nwonye, “the minister and the ministry respect the institution of the National Assembly.”

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