Xenophobia: Shall we face the stark reality?

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 the blood curdling news was doing the rounds in the mainstream media. Some Nigerians in Diaspora who have taken South Africa as their second home were maimed and their property destroyed in a widely shared video clip.

Of course, that was not the first time lives would be taken 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 other hand, we have the docility, naivety and insensitivity on the part of the Nigerian government. Just like in the former President Goodluck 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.

It might interest people that our own president was spotted posing with the president of the killer-South Africans, 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 had always been there before his administration. However, Baba promised us “change” which he has failed to give us. 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 allegedly owned by South Africa would only create more problems. First, Nigerian business moguls have shares in these businesses, they would suffer the adverse effects. 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 SIM cards, 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 fat. 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?

I think 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 paper committees. Migrations scholar agree that 90 per cent of people migrate for economic reasons. So, what about the Nigerian economy? The Federal Government should drive economic policies that would bring about economic reform and see if Nigerians in Diaspora would not rush back home.

Abdullah Abdulganiy,


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