Following the controversies that trailed the reason, Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, was not invited as one of the new members of the emerging national economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). the Nigeria High Commissioner to South Africa, Mohammad Haruna Manta, had explained that Nigeria never applied to become a member and, hence was not invited, when Egypt and Ethiopia were invited to join the body.
Manta revealed this to the second cohort of the MTN Media Innovation Fellows from Nigeria, who are in South Africa on a training programme, sponsored by MTN Nigeria, in collaboration with Pan Atlantic University (PAU) in Lagos.
Recall that, President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, had last month, during the 14th BRICS Summit, which was held in August 2023 in South Africa, announced the invitation of six additional countries to join BRICS. The countries include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) and their membership takes effect on January 1, 2024.
Among the six countries, Egypt and Ethiopia were the only African countries that were invited to join BRICS, and Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, was left out.
Nigerians within and those in Diaspora blamed the government for missing out from such an important invitation to join the BRICS alliance, whose agenda is to form a common bloc that will challenge a world order dominated by United States and Western allies.
According to Manta, the protocol for submitting an application for membership of BRICS is that the applying country will send in the country’s application to the foreign minister of the host country and such application must be submitted not less than two weeks before the date of the meeting. The host country, which was South Africa, will then send the application to the chairman who is the President of the host country, and who is President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who will then present the application to the member country representatives of BRICS for deliberation.
The High Commissioner explained that Nigeria did not submit any application in the first place to join BRICS, hence Nigeria was not among the countries whose applications were deliberated upon.
“This is the reason why Nigeria was excluded from BRICS membership, at a time when two African countries, Ethiopia, Egypt, were invited to join,” Manta explained.
He was however, optimistic that Nigeria would apply for membership of BRICS by the next meeting in Russia, since Nigeria now has its cabinet of ministers.
Deputy Minister, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Republic of South Africa, Mashego Dlamini, who was also worried that Nigeria was not among the two Africa countries invited to join BRICS, however, blamed the situation on the political transition that saw Nigeria changing leadership position from one government to another, after its general elections.
“No country stopped Nigeria from getting the invitation to join BRICS this year. Nigeria, which has the largest economy in Africa, ought to be considered first before any other African country, but the change in leadership rubbed off Nigeria’s interest from becoming a member of BRICS. I enjoin the Nigerian media to be positive in their reporting, instead of pointing accusing fingers on the Nigerian government,” Dlamini, said.
Manta further said BRICS as an organisation had always invited Nigeria to its meetings since 2009 and that Nigeria as a nation, had always attended BRICS meetings.
“In 2013, Nigeria had good representation at the BRICS meeting and made presentation at the meeting but did not make any conclusive statement about joining BRICS, and from 2009 till date, Nigeria has never applied formally to become member of BRICS. This year, BRICS meeting was hosted in South Africa, and as usual, Nigeria was also invited, and Nigeria attended but never showed interest in applying and in pushing its application, because Nigeria as a country, had no cabinet as at the time the meeting was held, because of change in government from former President Muhammadu Buhari to Present Bola Ahmed Tinubu. At the time the meeting was holding in August, President Tinubu had not formed his cabinet and we had no minister to represent Nigeria at that meeting,” Manta said.