Diplomat condemns xenophobic attacks on Nigerians In South Africa

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Nigeria’s former Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amb. Bukun-Olu Onemola, has condemned the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

He described the attacks as “unfortunate and uncalled for.’’

Onemola said on Friday in Abuja that he was glad that the South African government had intervened and was investigating the matter.

He said, “The renewed attacks on Nigerians are most unfortunate especially as their host South African communities have accused them of being illegal immigrants and responsible for the rise in crime.

“Not all Nigerians there are undocumented, and there are many Nigerians and other foreign nationals there who have legitimate businesses and have contributed to the South African economy.

“It is wrong to assume that they are all illegal immigrants; I am happy that the South African government is intervening and promise to investigate the matter.

“The South African government has promised to take actions by investigating this case and arresting the perpetrators in this incident.

“However, when this investigation is concluded, I think it will be right to have the Nigerians who were unfairly attacked to ask for compensation from the South African government.”

Onemola stressed the need for the Nigerian and South African governments to develop the habit of contacting each other and exchange visits to volatile areas that host their nationals.

He said, “I don’t know the level of development in these communities that the attacks occurred, but the government should take measures to protect the lives and property of foreigners in these communities.

“Just like in Nigeria and various countries, any community where there is low level of development, enlightenment and engagement, such crisis have the potential of occurring.”

The former envoy noted that such disputes within and between African countries had negative effects on the development and reputation of the African continent as a whole.

He said, “My immediate appeal is that South Africa should do all within its reach to stop the unfortunate incidents as it doesn’t portray a good image of South Africa within and beyond Africa.

“I see this as distraction between the two countries because this could hinder the two countries from pursuing collaborative endeavours that will promote both socio-economic and political developments in Africa.

“The issue of attacking, deceiving, undermining or blackmailing each other and destroying property will not be beneficial to the citizens of both countries and for Africa.

“The government should discourage such actions that can put both parties in such sad situations because such acts prevent growth and development.

“Africa still remains in a very poor state so Nigeria and South Africa should be the arrow heads to lift the continent out of the situation we find ourselves in.

“Both countries have to develop their regions using the abundant natural resources available in both countries and respect each other so that we can trust each other and integrate our regions which will develop Africa.

“We have to bear in mind that these domestic and internal crises and attacks would affect our reputation and how we are treated by nationals of other countries because the international community would be watching.

“As Nigerians, we can’t allow ourselves to be called corrupt and disorderly through our actions and expect to get respect in the international community.

“We have to develop ourselves and ensure that we abide by laws wherever we find ourselves because if we stick by this, nobody will disrespect us and call us corrupt.

“We can’t keep saying to ourselves that Nigeria is a corrupt country and expect those words not to have a role in how we are viewed and treated by foreign nationals and international bodies.

“Although, I don’t think that we need any international body to get involved as a third party in settling this matter at this stage and hopefully it won’t come to that.

“I believe this can be resolved between the two parties by the foreign ministers of both countries or even the permanent secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs of both countries.

“I am sure a good discussion between them would go a long way in solving whatever the underlining problem is.

“The last attacks were in 2015 and it has happened again two years after so a dialogue and a constant reminder of these actions is needed.

“This doesn’t just apply to Nigeria and South Africa, but between various African countries in order to promote peace, unity and development in Africa.”

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