Xenophobia: Obasanjo applauds South Africa president for apologising to affected nations

A former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has applauded President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, for apologising to countries whose citizens were affected by recent xenophobic attacks in the country.

Obasanjo in an interview on Saturday, in Abeokuta, said he met with the South African president some days back and got an assurance that things would be done to forestall any future occurrence.

The former president said one of his high points during the meeting was the need to establish a ‘Bi-lateral Commission’ between Nigeria and South Africa to further strengthen their relationship.

“I believe the president of South Africa did the right thing by sending emissaries to apologise to the countries that are affected in the recent xenophobia, countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique and I think this was good.

“I took the opportunity of being in South Africa about three or four days ago, to actually pay a courtesy call on President Cyril Ramaphosa, and he quickly granted me the opportunity. One of the major things we discuss is this issue of xenophobia or Afrophobia.

“One good thing among many things the president told me was that ‘there are so much at stake and whatever mistake we have made, we have to correct it’. And I think that was very good statement and I know that he meant it because he immediately said look what can we do or should we do?

“Of course, one of the things they are going to do between South Africa and Nigeria is they are going to have what we established during my term called ‘bi-lateral commission’ They have raised it during my time, it was at the second echelon level of vice-president, the deputy president. But, now they have raised it to the president’s level and I understand that our own president would be there within the first week of October. I think that is good because they can iron out those issues that must not be left undealt with,” he added.

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Obasanjo said he had a discussion with Nigeria’s Consul-General to South Africa, Godwin Adama, during his visit and that issue on how to compensate those who lost their valuables in the course of the attacks were raised.

He thanked God that no Nigerian was lost while the attacks lasted.

The former president said, “I met with our consul-general and fortunately in this particular incident, there were no Nigerians who lost his or her life which is good enough, but a lot of them lost properties. The issue of compensation can be done f you have genuine list of those who lost properties or what they lost, there can be compensation of some sort and that I believe this is one of the things we should be talking about.”

He advised the South African government to deal with any foreigner found guilty of violating the laws of the land by investigating such fellow and dispense justice accordingly, saying “if a Nigerian in South Africa commit an offence, you don’t have to say this is a Nigerian; he is a citizen and a residence of your country, please treat him according to the law of the land.

“The idea of thinking or saying that foreigners are taking your job that also should be killed because most of these foreigners paid something into the country. I met more than two Nigerians who are doing legitimate business and the turn overrun 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 peddler, criminals; they are many of them that are genuine businessmen and professionals and who are making a meaningful contribution to the economy and the social life of that country.

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

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