Xenophobic attacks: Don’t retaliate, protect South Africans, Adeboye begs Nigerians

•lists reasons, says no enough jobs for Nigerians

Worried by the weeklong spontaneous reprisal attacks on South Africa business links in the country over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has urged Nigerians not to retaliate against South Africans and their businesses in their country.

The revered man of God, it will be recalled during the week, admonished Nigerians on his social media handles to eschew violence and retaliation against perceived enemies.

Delivering his sermon at about 11:00 p.m at the September edition of the monthly Holy Ghost Service, held at the Redemption Camp along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Adeboye pleaded, “I beg you in the name of God, don’t retaliate against South Africa.”

The septuagenarian thereafter recalled his experience as a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka just before the start of the Civil War.

He noted that only a few South Africans were fomenting trouble, stating that an average citizen of the country is decent.

Adeboye further averred that Nigerians were relocating to countries like South Africa in search of jobs since they were not available in their country.

He, therefore, warned Nigerians against reprisal attacks for the sake of their countrymen who are still resident in South Africa.

“I want to make a very special appeal to you and you can pass the message on to your friends. I want to beg you, not to think of retaliation against South Africa.

“I will tell you why: in 1966, just before the Civil War, Colonel (he was Colonel then) Odumegwu Ojukwu made an announcement over the radio; at that time, I was at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

“He said that he could no longer guarantee the safety of those who came outside the Eastern region (we were in regions then).

“So he told all of us, who were not Easterners, to go home. And all our brothers, who were of Eastern origin, sympathised with us, because our studies at Nsukka was coming to an abrupt end.

“The University authority called a meeting and they told us they would make arrangements to transport those of us who were not of Eastern origin back to our regions.

“But then suddenly, news came over the radio that the students of the University of Ibadan had cornered all the brethren from the East and that they’re holding them to ransom, saying they would not be released until everybody from Western Region had come back home.

“Immediately, everything changed: all of our friends from the Eastern Region (people, we had been friends together, eating together, playing ball together etc), who were sympathising a moment ago, changed.

“Immediately, they began to hold meetings as to how to keep all of us (who were from outside the East) in the East, until they had all their own brothers restored to them.

“I mean, everything changed. In my life, I can count three or four occasions when I’d known fear in the real sense of the word – I knew it that day. Because all of us gathered together (we were not very many) and there was one man among us from Ekiti, who was noted for expensive jokes.

“While we were all trembling, not knowing what we were going to do, he said ‘well, my own case is simple: my wife had just got a son, if I die now, nobody would say ‘I never came into the world.’ Suddenly, the possibility of dying came to us.

“You don’t know what it is to be in another man’s land, not knowing what would happen overnight.

“Be careful. Don’t retaliate against South Africa because of the Nigerians who are still in South Africa. If you understand me, say Amen,” he noted.

Adeboye went further to conclude the story: “It took divine intervention to get us across the Niger again. Because the moment we saw what was happening, those who had money began to run away, to go and take their transport from Nsukka to Asaba.

“I’d just won (what they call in those days) Senate scholarship: it means the senate of the university was going to pay my school fees, my allowances because I was the best in Mathematics department, so I had spent every money I had because I knew money was coming and now I was down to zero.

“I had no money even if I wanted to run away and the university that said…. (anyway, let me leave the story there!) .

“Let me tell you one thing and I’m sure many of you know it:  Anytime they say that the university is rioting, the people who are actually rioting are always less than 10 per cent of the population of the university (those of you who know what I’m talking about, say Amen).

“The rest of us, we lock ourselves in the room, reading our books. Of course, if they see you, (the few who are rioting), they can come and break your head with a bottle.

“The average South African is a decent person (I know). Those who are causing trouble are not many. If you have a South African leaving near you, show them love, protect them from any harm.

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“Because let me tell you point-blank, even if the government were to repatriate all Nigerians from South Africa, within the next two months, they would be back. And you know Nigerians, why did they go to South Africa (to start with)?

“You repatriate them, bring them to Nigeria: Do we have enough jobs for those who stayed? So, for the sake of your own kith and kin, don’t retaliate against South Africa.

“Let us leave this job to the governments, let them solve this problem at the governmental level. Pray for them, that God will give them wisdom, the understanding, give them the ability to do it.

“Let me put it in a light manner now: those of you who agree with me say “Aye”, those who disagree say “Nay”. The “Aye’s” have it. Let’s put our hands together for the Almighty God,” he concluded.

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