The Presidency yesterday explained that the Federal Government has not recalled the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Balla.
A senior aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, who prefers not to be quoted in print, said the government will only be inviting the diplomat to brief it on developments.
He said: “When the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, spoke yesterday, he made it clear that government may, if necessary, be inviting the Nigerian High Commissioner to brief the administration. It was not a recall. A recall at this time, even if not ruled out, would be a short-sighted move. Not having diplomatic contact is not a good development for now. Our envoy will remain at his post.
“What President Buhari did was to request the Foreign Minister to speak to his counterpart in South Africa to convey the seriousness of the concerns of the government and people of Nigeria. This, he has already done.
“The meaning of recall of Ambassador is an indication of extreme displeasure and disagreement, a sign of how grievously report has deteriorated between any two countries. It is the penultimate step before the breaking off of diplomatic relationship.
“Nigeria does not seek escalation of the on-going situation. We will work with South Africa to find solutions to their problems which have become our own problem. We will work as brothers. That is the mission by the President’s Special Envoy to South Africa,” the aide noted.