A former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, has said that not inviting Nigeria to join BRICS sends a strong signal that South Africa is an enemy of Nigeria.
South Africa hosted the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg where six countries were invited to join the economic bloc.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who also Chairs BRICS said the bloc decided to invite six countries – Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to join the group by January 2024.
Nigeria, the biggest economy in the continent was snubbed.
Although the country was not invited to join BRICS, Vice President Kashim Shettima was at the summit to explore opportunities for the country.
The debate over expanding the bloc which comprises, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was top of the agenda at the three-day summit.
Akinyemi said on Arise Tv, “What has played out in the summit in South Africa is what some of us had anticipated as far back as 1987. I was a minister at that time. I warned Nigeria that the anti-apartheid struggle was basically over and Nigeria would have to redefine its foreign policy and know that there are going to be competitors. Nigeria didn’t listen to me at that time.
“That was when I proposed the concert of medium powers. You know BRICS is a variation of the concept of medium powers. Nigerians rejected my proposal even though foreign countries that we invited accepted that proposal. If Nigeria had embraced and pursued that policy, we would be the one in fact determining the fate of South Africa. Not South Africa Determining our fate.
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“What played out in South Africa, let me call a spade a spade, South Africa has simply shown itself as an enemy of Nigeria that is determined at all cost to checkmate Nigeria wherever it gets the opportunity to do so whether it is the xenophobic attack on our people there. South Africa thinks ahead. It already has its eyes on the election to the Security Council of the United Nations.”
When the VP returned from the summit, he was faced with critic after Nigeria missed the list of the invited countries despite South Africa being the Chair of BRICS.
But Shettima said, “So far, we have not applied for the membership of BRICS. And it is majorly informed by the fact that my principal President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a true democrat that believes in consensus building,” he told Channels Television on the sideline of the BRICS Summit which was held in South Africa.
“There are so many variables that need to be taken into cognizance. We have to evaluate so many tendencies and issues that require engagements with the economic advisory council, the Federal Executive Council, and even the National Assembly before an informed decision towards joining the BRICS would be taken.” he added.
The former Foreign Affairs Minister claimed that South Africa sees Nigeria as a threat and uses every opportunity to checkmate the country.
He said not being invited gives Nigeria the chance to form its bloc that would neither align to the West nor East which the G7 and the BRICS represents respectively.
He said, “Now it (South Africa) has BRICS, it has two of the superpowers on its side and it tends to use that to checkmate Nigeria and yet this is the time we are saying we should be closing down embassies. Our Embassies are badly financed. South Africa continues to open embassies. Continues to provide funds for it. We are the ones who have become our own enemies.
“What has played out in the BRICS invitations, even though is a setback for us, it provides us with an opportunity. The opportunity is that there are more states outside BRICS now than there are in BRICS.”