The Speaker of the House of Representatives has declared that the old arrangement that made it possible for South Africans to maim and kill Nigerians must be revoked.
Speaking at a world press conference in Abuja on Friday, 6 September 2019, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said, “We do not intend to speak many words.’’ He was responding to the xenophobic attacks currently waged against Nigerians living in South Africa.
He said that the time for speaking has long passed, and the time for action has arrived.
He said a fierce urgency demanding nothing less than total commitment to revoking the old arrangements that have made such “abominations against our people possible’’.
Nigerians, he noted, have long travelled far and wide in search of knowledge, of experience and prosperity.
Nigeria also has opened its borders to those who will seek their greener pastures, he said.
In Africa, Nigeria has demonstrated its commitment to the brotherhood of nations, sacrificing life, labour and wealth to achieve peace and restore freedom from Sierra Leone to Liberia, Sao Tome to South Africa.
“We have sought nothing in return, we have made no claims to the land and resources of our brothers. Our commitment has always been to the advancement of Africa, to freedom in all our lands and prosperity for all our peoples.
“Yet today and too many a time, we are called to stand as pallbearers, bringing home to bury the bodies of our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, our children, savaged and decimated. What is their offence? That they dared to dream of glory and profit beyond our borders, and having dreamt, they endeavoured to make real the visions of their heart.”
“We did not provoke, nor do we deserve the violence that has been visited on our people in South Africa. We reject entirely the obvious attempt to change the true narrative of events by casting the recently organised acts of violence as merely internecine conflict between gangs fighting for turf,’’ he said.
According to him, unless it is the position of South African government that all Nigerians living in South Africa are gangsters and criminals, “we demand that they reject these claims without equivocation’’.
“The vile images of violent devastation and death randomly visited on innocent people seeking their way in the world, strikes at our heart, causing pain that words alone cannot express. Let no one add insult to our grief,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rev Humphrey Olumakaiye, Diocesan Bishop, Lagos Diocese (Anglican Communion) has urged Nigeria to explore every diplomatic avenue to end the problem between Nigeria and South Africa over xenophobic attacks.
Olumakaiye advised the government not to go into negotiations without demanding a lasting solution from South Africa.
According to him, everything necessary should be done to bring to justice those who partook in the attacks and adequate compensation should be given to the victims and their families.
“As a church, we are saddened by the inhumane treatment of Nigerians and other nationals in South Africa and we utterly condemn xenophobia in all its appearances, whether tacitly or full blown.
“We also want to advise the government of South Africa not to sweep this issue under the rug, considering we are all human, created in God’s Image.
“It should be recalled that Nigeria as a nation, through her government and the people, were very accommodating to the South African nation during the ugly episode of apartheid. So, we do not deserve to be paid back with this inhumane treatment of her (Nigerian) citizens in South Africa,’’ the cleric said.