Sunday, September 29, 2019

Xenophobia: Nigerians evacuated from South Africa should prepare to return - Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has advised Nigerians evacuated from South Africa following the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals to prepare to return to South Africa. He made this known after meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The ex-Head of State has met with Ramaphosa in South Africa, where he said the issue of Xenophobia was discussed. Obasanjo made this known on Saturday at his Abeokuta residence when reporters asked him what he discussed with President Ramaphosa.

Obasanjo said, “I took the opportunity of being in South Africa to actually pay a courtesy call on President Cyril Ramaphosa and he quickly granted me the opportunity. One of the major things we discussed was this issue of xenophobia or Afrophobia.

“The President told me that there was so much at stake and whatever mistake we had made, we had to correct it. And I think that was a very good statement and I know that he meant it, because he immediately said ‘what can we do or should we do?’”

He advised  South Africans to tread softly on the issue of foreigners seeking opportunities in their country.

He said, “The idea of thinking or saying that foreigners are taking your jobs should be killed, because most of these foreigners paid something into the country.

“I met more than two Nigerians who are doing legitimate businesses and the turnover runs into millions of dollars and they employed 50 to 60 South Africans.

“All these must be expressed and must be shown that Nigerians in South Africa are not drug peddlers and criminals; there are many of them that are genuine businessmen and professionals and who are making meaningful contributions to the economy and the social life of that country.

“I think that is all we must be doing and be saying and my joy is that President Cyril Ramaphosa is ready to do what needs to be done to stop these incidents and to put the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa on the right track.

“One of the things they are going to do between South Africa and Nigeria is that  they are going to have what we established during  my tenure – that we called  bilateral commission.”

On the Nigerians evacuated from South Africa, Obasanjo said,  “I hope they will go back to South Africa from what I heard from President Ramaphosa. Like I  said, the meeting that President Buhari and President Ramaphosa will have during the first week of October should smooth the ground. And the right statements and the right action coming from both sides should encourage our people to go back.

“But, as I have always said that Nigerians living outside Nigeria must try to be good citizens of wherever they live.”