What Ramaphosa told me about the xenophobic attacks – Obasanjo - The Naija Weekly

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

What Ramaphosa told me about the xenophobic attacks – Obasanjo


Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed what transpired between him and the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa over xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African nationals residing in the South Africa.
According to Obasanjo, who said he paid a courtesy call on the South African leader recently, Ramaphosa agreed that his country had indeed erred and his government was making frantic efforts to correct the situation.
Obasanjo also said Ramaphosa concurred that there was an urgent need for Nigeria and South Africa to establish a “Bilateral Commission” to further deepen the relationship between the two countries.
The former President made this known on Saturday during a chat with select reporters at his residence inside the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta.
Obasanjo, who disclosed that he also met with the Nigerian Consular-General in South Africa, further revealed that that he was told that no Nigerian lives were lost during the widely reported violence, but that scores had lost their properties.
He lauded the South African President for sending emissaries to countries affected by the xenophobic attacks to apologise, advocating compensation for victims of the attacks.
Obasanjo further expressed his joy that President Ramaphosa was ready to do what needed to be done to stop the incidents and to put the relationship between two allies back on the right track.
“I believe the President of South Africa did the right thing to quickly send emissaries to apologise to the countries that are affected,” Obasanjo said.
“Countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, and I think this was good. I took the opportunity of being in South Africa about three or four days ago to actually pay a courtesy call on President Cyril Ramaphosa, and he quickly granted me the opportunity. One of the major things we discussed is this issue of xenophobia or Afrophobia.
“One good thing I discovered among many is that the President said to me that ‘there is so much at stake and whatever mistake we have made, we have to correct it.’ And I think that was very good statement and I know that he meant it, because he immediately said look what can we do or should we do? Of course, one of the things they are going to do between South Africa and Nigeria is they are going to have what we established in my term. We called it ‘Bi-lateral Commission’. They have raised it during my time; it was at the second echelon level of Vice President, Deputy President. But, now they have raised it to the President level and I understand that our own president would be there within the first week of October. I think that is good because they can iron out issues that must not be left undealt with.
“The other thing that I found talking to our Consul-General was, fortunately, in this particular incident, there were no Nigerians who lost his or her life, which is good enough, but a lot of them lost properties. That can be handled either if you have genuine list of those who lost properties or what they lost, there can be compensation of some sort. And that I believe is what we should be talking about. Then there is the issue of the right statements coming out from both sides; right statement from the leadership in South Africa and Nigeria.
“The President of South Africa went back and told me the story of how these things started that there was a Nigerian business woman who was killed in South Africa and they tried to investigate, but the investigation was a little bit inconclusive. And there was a taxi driver again who was killed. But, the point that I made and I think should be made is that look, if a Nigerians in South Africa commit an offence, you don’t have to say this is a Nigerian; he is a citizen and a residence of your country, please treat him according to the law of the land.
“And the idea of thinking or saying that foreigners are taking your job that also should be killed, because most of these foreigners paid something into the country. I met more than two Nigerians who are doing legitimate businesses and the turn over runs into millions of dollars and they employed 50 to 60 South Africans. All these must be expressed and must be shown that Nigerians in South Africa are not drug peddlers, criminals; there are many of them that are genuine businessmen and professionals and who are making meaningful contribution to the economy and the social life of that country. I think that is all we must be doing and be saying. And I said my joy is that President Cyril Ramaphosa is ready to do what needs to be done to stop this incidents and to put the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa on the right track,” Obasanjo told reporters.
On the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa, Obasanjo opined that both the Nigerian and South African governments should encourage the evacuees to return to South Africa and continue to live and engage in legitimate business.
“I will hope so from what I heard from the South African President and, like I said, the meeting that President Buhari and President Cyril Ramaphosa will have during first week of October should smoothen the ground and the right statements and the right action coming from both side should encourage our people to go back. But, as I have always said, Nigerians living outside Nigeria must try to be good citizens of wherever they live.
“When I was President and I met Nigerians abroad, I always told them that they should be good citizens of the country which they live and that way, they would be good citizens of the world. When you come back home, be good citizens of Nigeria and that is the way it should be,” the former president said.

The Sun

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