Who Will Win The Stand-off Between Nigeria and South Africa?

It is no longer news that the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa on Nigerians and other Africans lives and businesses have led to chaos in the continent; an event which made Africans to boo the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, during the burial of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in Harare.

Nigerians have fumed on social media and there have been reprisal attacks on South African companies in Nigeria especially Shoprite supermarkets. The South African Government has also closed its embassies in Nigeria. Many Nigerians in South Africa have also been returning home.

In the light of these events, the Nigerian government has also boycotted the World Economic Forum slated for Cape Town, South Africa; one of the steps taken by Nigeria against the xenophobic attacks. Nigeria has also recalled its ambassador while President Muhammadu Buhari sent a special envoy to South Africa. These has led to the question ‘’who will win the diplomatic stand-off between Nigeria?’’

For the sake of my readers, here is what you need to know about the two African countries:



Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is bounded on the north by Niger Republic, in the northeast by Chad, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Its coast in the south is located on the Gulf of Guinea, in the Atlantic Ocean. The Federation comprises 36 states and 1 Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja, is located.

The official language is English while other major languages include Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Nigeria gained her independence from the United Kingdom on the 1st of October 1960 while it became a Republic on the 1st of October 1963. It runs a democratic system of government like the United States which also has its constitution modelled after her. The country is ruled by the President who handpicks his Vice President and the member of his cabinet. The Nigerian legislature consists of the National Assembly which is made up of the Upper House (Senate) and Lower House (House of Representatives). 

Nigeria is the 32nd largest nation in the world with a land area of 923,768km sq. It is also the 7th most populous nation in the world, with over 200 million population according to the latest United Nations estimates. It is also the world’s 20th largest economy and the 1st in Africa, overtaking South Africa in 2014.

Nigeria made African Unity the centerpiece of its foreign policy and through that played a huge role in the fight against the apartheid government in South Africa. It was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union). Nigeria has lent a helping hand to many African nations in the past, such as Congo, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, and Rhodesia.

It is a member of organizations such as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic and Military Organizations (ECOMOG), Commonwealth of Nations, United Nations, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and so on. The country also has international relations with countries such as United States, China, Jamaica, Ghana, Kenya, and so on.

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the South by the coastline of Southern Africa, stretching along the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. It is bounded to the north by Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe while it has Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland) to the east and northeast respectively. South Africa, which is the largest country in Southern Africa, also surrounds Lesotho. About 80 percent of the people are of Bantu ancestry.

South Africa has 11 official languages which are reflected in its constitution. This is the fourth-highest number of official languages spoken in any nation in the world. The languages include Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, and Southern Ndebele. The first two is of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch (the first language of white South Africans) and English (the fourth official language, which reflects the legacy of British colonialism).

South Africa got its independence from the United Kingdom. It started her Self-governance on the 11th of December 1931 after being a union which started on the 31st of May 1910. It became a Republic on the 31st of May 1961.

South Africa is a parliamentary republic. Although unlike such republics, the President is the head of state and head of government and his tenure depends on the confidence of Parliament. The parliament is made up of the Upper House (National Council) and Lower House (National Assembly).

South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world, with a landmass area of 1,221,037 km sq. It is the 24th most populous nation in the world, with over 57 million people. It is also the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. The country is often referred to as the ‘’rainbow nation’’ due to its multicultural diversity.

South Africa is the 33rd largest economy in the world and the second-largest in Africa. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa. The country has traded with many African countries and other international countries such as Germany, the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Spain. It has also joined the BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China) which are set up to challenge dominance of Western economic policy.

South Africa is a member of several international organizations such as the United Nations (one of the founding members), African Union, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Commonwealth of Nations, Group of 77, Southern African Development Community (SADC), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), G20, G8 + 5, and so on.

Nigeria and South Africa Relations

South Africa has really benefited from Nigeria. If only for Nigeria’s part in her struggle against apartheid, it should have seen Nigeria as a brother nation rather than killing its citizens.

Shortly after Nigeria gained independence, it quickly moved against apartheid in South Africa which institutionalized racial segregation among its white and black people. From 1960 to 1995, Nigeria, alone, spent over $61 billion to support the end of apartheid, more than any other country in the world.

Nigeria, in 1976, even set up the Southern African Relief Fund (SAFR) which was to bring relief to the victims of the apartheid regime in South Africa, provide educational opportunities for them and promote the general welfare of her citizens. Nigerian leaders, civil servants, public officers, and even students made donations to this cause known as “Mandela tax.”

It is therefore unfortunate that the South Africans have not shown appreciations to Nigeria but have rather chosen the part of xenophobia and antagonism against their African brothers and sisters.

Who wins the stand-off between the two?

Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa despite that the West African country has many internal problems, ranging from corruption, insecurity, etc. South Africa was overtaken by Nigeria in 2014 which made it second to Nigeria. The west African country is also ranked the 20th largest economy in the world with South Africa sitting on the 32nd spot.

Despite the contrasting features of the two economies, Nigeria levers around a commodity-dependent economy while South Africa has built a highly-diversified economy with a superior industrial structure, it has yet to top Nigeria on the basis of economy. Crude oil, which Nigeria has depended on for years still has much to do about this.

When it comes to the trade relations between the two countries, Nigeria imports $514.3m of South African goods while South Africa imports $3.83bn worth of goods, mostly oil and oil products. Nigeria may lose a fortune here but South Africa will definitely feel the impact of the Nigerian imports, especially oil products.

A stand-off may lead to South Africa businesses folding up in Nigeria. DSTV cable service, MTN telecom, the Shoprite supermarket and others will definitely have an effect on the Nigerian workforce but will be an avenue to expand Nigerian owned companies such as Globacom and so on to step up and expand.

Although Nigeria’s geopolitical power may have waned in recent years, with the government battling with insecurity for years as well as tribal violence regularly, it is still a regional power. Nigeria is known as a middle power in international affairs and has also been identified as an emerging global power.

South Africa

South Africa also have its fair share of national problems. From April 2017 to March 2018, an average of 57 murders were committed each day in South Africa. By the end of 2017, there were 20,336 murders and the murder rate was 35.9 per 100,000; it was five times higher than the global average of 6.3 per 100,000. No matter what happens, Nigeria is still a force to be reckoned with in the world.

Nigeria’s population is also an advantage; the most populous black nation is almost four times the population of its South African counterpart. Nigeria’s human resources are more than that of South Africa, with over a million Nigerians in America, which constitutes the Nigerian American populace. In this regard, Nigeria also comes out on top.

Which Way Forward?

Nigeria and South Africa share a common vision on political and economic integration, on the need for a sustainable conflict resolution mechanism in Africa, and also on the need for the reform of the multilateral institutions such as UN, IMF, and World Bank, so as to reflect the realities of the changed and changing international environment.

The Nigerian government has a lot to do to take up its tag as the “Giant of Africa.” Efforts must be made to make the life of its citizens better and make Nigeria a better place to live for the people rather than crossing borders. Africa really relies on Nigeria’s economy, so whatever needs to be done to take it to the biggest of economies must be done.

South Africa, no doubt, is growing its economy. Much must be done by its leaders to solve their national problems and also improve on its relations with foreigners in their land or else the spirit of apartheid would be said to be an inborn thing in her citizens.

SOURCE: Wikipedia.

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