By Abdullah Abdulganiy
Yesterday was hell, bloody and a day never to witness again for many Nigerians. Whilst grappling with the challenge of maiming of scores of Nigerians at home by men of the underworld, a gory scenario reared its ugly head and was making the rounds in the mainstream media. Some Nigerians in diaspora who have taken South Africa as their second home were maimed and their property ransacked in a widely shared video clip.
Of course, that was not the first time lives would be hacked from Nigerians living in South Africa, and obviously may not be the last. Last week such happened. The week before the very last one, another xenophobic attack was recorded. However, what must have angered most Nigerians at home is the legitimacy such dastard act enjoys from the South African government on the one hand. You need not be a fortune teller to understand this. The comment from a top government official in South Africa can explain better. The South African police is in bed with the killings. The South African judiciary is unperturbed with the ongoing xenophobic attacks. How many such assassins have been arrested and convicted?
On the other hand is the docility, naivety and insensitivity on the part of Nigerian government. Just like in the Jonathan days when virtually all could predict what the state press release would look like after ravaging attacks by the Boko Haram, we are now familiar with the lines that would come from Buhari’s media handlers. “The presidency commiserates with the affected bla bla bla… We want to assure all that we are on top of the matter” or something to that effect has always been the mantra. It might interest you dear readers to know that our own President was spotted posing with the President of the Killer-South Africa, smiling and chuckling. At a time he should be hard on him? I mean it is an irony.
But again, in all fairness to Buhari, the xenophobic attacks have always been before his administration. However, Baba promised us “change” which he has failed to give us. So since the Nigerian government has failed in securing the lives of Nigerians and their property which is a primary responsibility of government, Nigerians have taken it upon themselves to use the bottom approach. But I am afraid we are misfiring!
For instance, the looting and destroying of business offices such as MTN, Shoprite allegedly owned by South Africa would only create more problems if such news is anything to go by. First, Nigerian business moguls have shares in these businesses, they would suffer the adverse effect. Two, scores of Nigerians are working with these establishments paving a way for them to earn a living, they may have to be the sacrificial lambs for their brothers’ ill-conceived actions. I pray we ruminate on this and immediately stop burning the whole house because we want to chase out a lizard.
I can still agree with those breaking their MTN sims, but have we any alternatives for those Nigerians who would lose their jobs as a result? And more importantly, do remember to save your contact list and inform your list of your current number so you won’t be shooting yourself in the leg. Some people have contracts for you and may only know you with your MTN line. In essence, breaking the head is not the medicine for headache. So, how do we do?
Methinks that this xenophobic phenomenon can only be matched head to head using the top approach. The Nigerian government should investigate why Nigerians continue to travel to South Africa in the first place. Billions need not to be wasted by setting up a “yeyenatu” committee. The answer is right under our nose. Migrations scholar agree that 90 per cent of people migrate for economic reasons. So, what about the Nigerian economy? In shambles. The federal government should drive economic policies that would bring about economic reform and see if Nigerians in diaspora would not rush back home. An assistant lecturer should start receiving five hundred thousand naira as basic salary, a medical doctor should start receiving one million naira as take home. Local products should be encouraged, talent and skill should be well compensated, citizens should be entitled to payment and loans, education should be free and standard to tertiary level, merit should count and all other sundry issues. In one fell swoop, those Nigerians washing corps in London would come back.
Ghana here (as the Yorubas would say: ni ile nle bi) is now enjoying uninterrupted power supply. No potholes could be sighted in Dakar of Senegal. Who would travel to such countries and say coming back to Nigeria is the next thing to do if not under pressure? I suggest an economic overhaul to discourage Nigerians from migrating to other countries. South Africa is a sovereign state. If it says it doesn’t want Nigerians to live in its state again, it has every right. But not by violence. There should be dialogue between the governments of the two states and resolutions must be made. If these killings persist, it is high time the Nigerian government dragged the South African government to the International Criminal Court and make them lose billions. Maybe by this, South Africans would turn a new leaf.
Abdullah is a finalist at the better-by-far University of Ilorin. Email: email@example.com.