Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Muhammad Haruna Manta, has disclosed that some 500,000 Nigerians are classified as undocumented citizens in the country, while 8,900 are professionals and students.
He said Nigerians in South Africa are classified into three cadres: students, of which there are about 6,000; professionals (2,900) with footprints in medicals, education, entrepreneurship, among others; and about 500,000 who are currently classified as undocumented.
He spoke at the weekend at MTN’s Group Head Office in Johannesburg, South Africa, when some Nigerian journalists on a media tour (courtesy of the Media Innovation Programme, Cohort 2) visited the telecommunications firm.
The High Commissioner, who noted that the data was of 2021, said the commission is doing everything possible to ensure Nigerians are treated well, secure, and contribute positively to the South African economy.
Manta said everything is being done to ensure relationship between Nigeria and South Africa remains cordial, stressing that both countries have been power houses of the continent for years.
On Nigeria missing out on membership of the BRICS bloc, he clarified that the country has not applied officially.
BRICS consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – emerging economies – in alliance for common development. In August, South Africa hosted the 2023 BRICS meeting, where it officially invited Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Iran, Argentina, and Ethiopia to become new full-time members, subsequently expanding the group from five to 11 states. When the new states eventually join in 2024, the bloc will account for 37.3 per cent of the world’s GDP, which is expected to rise to 37.7 per cent in 2025 and 38.5 per cent in 2028.
According to the International Monetary Fund, BRICS’ population will also grow from its current 3.2 billion by, at least, 400 million, significantly higher than the G-7’s combined population of 800 million.
Many observers had queried the exemption of Nigeria, adjudged to be the largest economy in Africa.
But the High Commissioner explained: “Nigeria has never formally applied. The same thing happened this year. Though, there were efforts, but it has to be formal. Application has to come from the foreign ministry. And as of that time, there was no cabinet in place.
“The foreign affairs minister would need to submit an application to the foreign minister of the host country, which would subsequently be passed to the host president, who will then table it before the BRICS for deliberations.
“But when the 2023 meeting held, there was no cabinet, no foreign minister for Nigeria. So, application could not be made.”