A former presidential candidate in Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, and leaders of the Nigerian community in Cape Town have met to proffer a solution to recurring xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa, which comprises of Nigerian entrepreneurs, professionals and the Nigerian community led by Mr Cosmos Echie, the acting President of the Nigerian Community in Western Cape (NCWC).
In a communique issued after the meeting and made available to newsmen in Lagos, the group described the attacks as “Afrophobia” adding that “It was unanimously agreed that the crisis is detrimental to the spirit of African renaissance, affirmation of black heritage, progress and development.”
“Afrophobia compromises everything that the recently brokered intra-African trade – Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement — represents and aspires to deliver,” the communique added while faulting the attacks.
According to a copy of the communique made available to our correspondent in Lagos on Monday, the group urged the governments of Nigeria and South Africa to guide against provocative comments.
They also asked the South African President, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, to apologise to Nigerians and other countries whose citizens were attacked.
The group also urged the South African government to trigger series of actions necessary to de-escalate the brewing conflict.
This, according to the group, would ensure that bilateral trade agreements between the countries would not be affected.
“Officials of the government of South Africa must immediately desist from making any further pejorative and incendiary comments targeting Nigerians and their country and instead publicly commit to taking preventive and surveillance measures that will foreclose a repeat of Afrophobic attacks of Nigerians and other African nationals.
“The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, should rise to the demands of leadership and reach out to the President of Nigeria to trigger the series of dialogue and actions necessary for swift de-escalation of the brewing conflict between their two countries.
“The President of South Africa should offer a sincere public apology to Nigeria, other countries affected by the attacks and the entire continent for the tragic hostility and harm perpetrated against their citizens.
“The President of South Africa should send a sharp signal to South Africans and the continent by visiting the victims of the Afrophobia attacks to empathize with and reassure them of their safety in South Africa and the government should consider paying compensations for losses sustained in the attacks.
“South Africa and Nigeria should agree on a mutual legal assistance cooperation scheme for tackling cases of crimes occurring among their citizens.
“The Nigerian High Commission and Nigerians in South Africa should design a fact-based campaign to widely convey the accurate and positive narrative of the value they contribute to their host country.
“For example, South Africans must be made aware that more than 18 percent of lecturers in their higher institutions are Nigerians. A significant percentage of the medical personnel in rural hospitals are Nigerians. Most Nigerians and Nigerian-owned businesses operate responsibly in legitimate and professional practices in South Africa compared to the less than one percent of cases of shadowy activities.
“The Nigerian government should make visible effort to guarantee the safety and security of South Africans and their businesses in Nigeria.
“The umbrella organisation of South Africa- based Nigerians will be encouraged to launch a business platform to support the formalising processes for as many informal businesses of Nigerians as possible in order to better capture the value and impact being created and contributed to South Africa’s economic and social landscape,” the communique read in parts.
Other members of the delegation that met with the former Education minister are Mr Fuster Ludjoe, current financial Secretary of NCWC and the founding leader of Nigerian community group in Cape Town; Mrs Ebiere Joseph-Akwunwa, Public Relations Officer, NCWC; Mr Chukwudi Nwokeabia;
Mr Samson Famuyiwa; Mr Sunday Ekene, Chief Welfare Officer, NCWC; and assistant welfare officers of NCWC among other executive members of the group.