The President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Danielson Akpan, and the President of the Student Union Government (SUG) of the University of Abuja, Suleiman Rabiu, clashed on Wednesday at the premises of the South African High Commission, Abuja.
The encounter followed a meeting between the Acting South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Bobby Moroe, and the National Youth Council of Nigeria and the Committee of Youth Mobilization and Sensitisation and other youth groups in Abuja.
Crisis, however, broke out shortly after the conclusion of the meeting when the youth groups emerged from the premises of the High Commission into the waiting arms of the NANS president.
The NANS president accused the youth groups of sabotage by going to negotiate with the High Commission, even as the Abuja SUG President was beaten up by some SUG members who accompanied the president, with one of them threatening to assault a Daily Sun reporter for seeking clarification from Rabiu.
Rabiu, however, said he was not at the South African High Commission parley to represent the SUG, but the Students of the University of Abuja.
Speaking with journalists, Akpan wondered what gave the University of Abuja Student Union President the effrontery to go out of order.
“As a student union president, what is your business with a diplomatic issue? What is your business as a student union president with a diplomatic matter, an issue that concerns the international community? He does not have the jurisdiction to address, to be invited to talk on this issue.
“So, you can see that while, as leaders, we are struggling to make sure we project the image of our country positively, some people are going behind to sabotage our efforts, some are going behind just for the sake of money.
“We can no longer tolerate this. This is Nigeria. We are first Nigerians before we are Africans. And it is our responsibility as patriotic people to defend our people wherever they are in the world.
“We have not killed any South African in Nigeria. We have not. None is on record. Why are they killing our people daily? And that has been the position of NANS,” Akpan said.
Briefing journalists earlier on the outcome of the meeting, Moroe said the groups agreed that, with the prevailing tensions, if citizens of both countries attack each other, they will become losers.
“It is important that we take advantage of the dialogue that we had held today and to rebuild the much-needed dialogue,” Moroe said.
Also speaking, the President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Bello Bala Shagari, said the youths were not at the High Commission because they were happy with what is going on in South Africa, but were at the High Commission because it is a shame to the African people to have defied the principles of pan-Africanism.
“Nigerians are being killed in South Africa; for what reason, we do not understand. But what I will say I am happy to hear today from His Excellency is that they also regret what is happening in South Africa, and he has expressed that very well and he also acknowledged the contributions that Nigerians have made to South Africa, especially during the Apartheid period,” Shagari said.
At the end of the meeting, the parties set up a program to follow up on the peace process discussed during the meeting.