Nigerian leaders under three socio-cultural bodies: Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo, and Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have condemned the constant killing of Nigerians in South Africa. The groups represent the people of the South West, South East, South-South zones.
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) also joined the three regional blocs to protest that the frequent assault and killing of Nigerians in South Africa and charged the federal government to use diplomatic approach to protect her citizens from the xenophobic attacks.
Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, however, remarked that since the federal government had failed to secure the lives of Nigerians at home, it would be difficult for it to stop the killing of her nationals in South Africa.
The group lamented that the lives of Nigerians living at home had become cheaper than sachet water due to the unabated killing by suspected herdsmen.
Through its spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere said: “It is unfortunate that Nigerians are running away from home to foreign lands due to the harsh economic situation in the country. Ideally, there should be serious action from the government to stop the killings, but which Nigerian government will discuss the killing of her citizens when people are being killed daily under their watch and nothing was done to stop it.
“As the federal government stops the killings of Nigerians at home? Once the federal government failed to stop the killing of Nigerians from herdsmen who are terrorising the country, how would they now stop the killing of her nationals in South Africa?
“Human lives have become the cheapest commodity in Nigeria today. It is cheap as sachet water. Those who died during the last elections who is talking about them? The international observers said that 157 souls were killed during the elections. As anybody talked about them?” Odumakin asked
Also, Chief Emeka Attamah, the media assistant to the president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, and the chairman of CLO in the South East, Comrade Alloysius Attah, decried the worsening plight of Nigerians in South Africa.
Attamah said: “What is happening to Nigerians in South Africa is a reflection of the utter disregard for life in Nigeria. We have to start according our people recognition and protection before we expect others to extend same to us.
“However, the Nigerian government should use diplomatic channels to arrest the situation. The government is not doing enough, which is in consonant with its disregard for life back home,” he said.
The duo also condemned the payment of huge severance allowance, pension and salaries to public officeholders in Nigeria.
The national chairman of PANDEF, Air Vice Marshal Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), called on the federal government to create an enabling environment for Nigerians to settle at home and avoid travelling to hostile countries, such as South Africa.
Nkanga told LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, Rivers State if the federal government takes care of the citizens’ welfare, Nigerians would not be running to South Africa where they are frequently attacked and killed.
He said: “I think the basic thing is that I don’t think Nigerians love living somewhere that is not attractive. If Nigeria is attractive, they will rather spend their time and lives down here.
“The Nigerians they are attacking in South Africa are just common people who are struggling to make out a living. If they see Nigerians, who are top businessmen in South Africa, they don’t kill them because they know the value they add to their society.
“Those they attack are people struggling for survival. They don’t have a place, even in our country. If the government here is good, it could take care of their welfare.
“Just like it is being done in every society, look after the welfare of the common people, then, I am sure they will prefer to remain here and contribute to the development of this nation rather than going to South Africa.
“I think that is where we should start from before asking South Africans to reciprocate Nigerians sacrifices for them in the past. We are not killing their people here in Nigeria. After all, there are many South African companies operating in Nigeria,” he said.
Similarly, Mr. Oluwakayode Jesujana said that since people are allowed by law to visit, stay and live in any part of the world, the law of such countries should be able to protect both the citizens and the foreigners alike.
Jesujana, who is lawyer, said that in a situation where a foreigner is working or going against the country’s law, he or should be reprimanded and be made to face the wrath of the law in accordance with the rules and regulations.
“There is no law in the world which allows for jungle justice or that a foreigner should be killed by the citizens,” he said.
While noting that South Africa has been involved too much in the act, he called on the federal government to take concrete steps to stem the ugly trend.
Jesujana also called on the government to take the census of Nigerians in South Africa with a view to putting into consideration their interest and needs.
An analyst, Oladele Ogunsola, who blamed the Nigerian government for the plight of her people in South Africa, said that if the government had provided the conducive environment for the people to thrive in their endeavours, “they would have stayed in their country rather than going for greener pasture in other countries which are hostile to them.
He said: “Most of the Nigerians who travel out for greener pasture never come back and it is unfortunate that our government is not taking cognisance of this by finding solutions to the myriad of crises in the country.”
Ogunsola charged the government to arrest unemployment, poverty, kidnapping and killing, adding that “government should strive to create a congenial environment for the citizens to exhibit their God-given talents for the development of the country. Those in the Diaspora should be encouraged to return home to contribute their quota to the progress of the country.”
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