We are not interested in the rightness or wrongness of South Africa telling foreigners, including Nigerians, to leave their country, which they call xenophobia, since this is a value judgment which may go one way or the other.
In the same vein, we never expected Nigeria to go to war against South Africa for chasing our nationals out of their country, not just because we do not have the liver to do so, but because we did the same thing to other foreign nationals some time in the past. We called them “illegal immigrants”. Remember “Ghana must go” of between 1984 and 1985?
That time we all saw those foreign nationals as our enemies, parasitic to our economy, and insisted that they must leave our country. Accordingly, we did not hesitate to round many of them up and loaded them into 911 lorries, and drove them out of our land.
So, if the South Africans now see our own nationals in their country as enemies, as parasitic to their economy and ask them to leave, we should not too much complain, because we did the same thing in the past. What goes around, comes around.
That notwithstanding, our interest in the current xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa is to see it as a welcome challenge. The attack should be an eye opener, which would make us to come back to our senses, if at all we have such. It should make us begin to ask ourselves: why is it that many Nigerians are leaving their country and migrating to many other countries of the world, thereby constituting “nuisance” in those other countries? Why is it that Nigerians are being chased from pillar to post in many countries of the world?
When we drove the Ghanaians out of Nigeria in 1984/85, they went back to Ghana, reorganized themselves and succeeded in putting the economy of their country on sound footing. Today, Ghana is where to be, “ebe-ano”, as we say it in Igbo. Thousands of Nigerians now migrate to that country almost on daily basis, while many companies in Nigeria are relocating to Ghana.
The other day, they told us of how the Ghanaian President had outsmarted our own President and cornered Toyota to Ghana, which was part of the fallouts of the just concluded International Conference on African Development held at Yokohama, Japan. This is due to the prevailing conducive investment climate in Ghana.
That Nigerians are now being harassed, molested and even killed in different parts of the world, and their property looted, is because of the failure or inability of our own government to put our house in order, to properly fix the economy of our country.
We take it as an indubitable fact, that the primary responsibility of any government is to cater or to provide for the needs of all its citizens, including protecting their lives and property. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Nigerian government is living up to this responsibility, or has done enough to make Nigeria comfortable and liveable for most of her citizenry.
In other words, the main problem is that the Nigerian government has failed to provide jobs for its teeming unemployed youths, failed to make the Nigerian sociopolitical environment conducive for successful economic enterprise, and failed to secure the lives and property of its citizens.
It is this failure, the inability of the Nigerian government to cater or to provide for the needs of its citizens and protect their lives and property that had driven many Nigerians to desperation, and forced them to begin to migrate to different parts of the world, where many of them are now being treated as second class citizens. It is an incontrovertible fact that today, if some slave ships were to dock in our seaports, you will see millions of Nigerians killing themselves to board those ships! That’s how bad the situation in our country currently is.
Sending a special envoy to South Africa to go and “beg” President Cyril Ramaphosa by our own President Muhammadu Buhari over xenophobic attacks on our citizens, does not quite add up, while bringing back to Nigeria, our nationals who have been displaced in that country, will only add to the army of unemployed people in the country.
What we think is the ultimate solution will be a total overhaul or reordering of Nigeria’s political and economic system. But with the present crop of people at the helm of affairs in our country, we do not think that there will be any silver linen in the air.