Nigeria: Buhari Orders Evacuation of Nigerians From South Africa

Nigeria on map.
10 September 2019

To ensure that Nigerians willing to leave South Africa are not unduly exposed to danger and xenophobic attacks, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered their immediate evacuation from that country.

The president gave the directive yesterday in Abuja when he received the report of the special envoy and the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, who he sent to South Africa in the wake of last week's killing of Nigerians and other Africans.

Buhari sent Abubakar to Pretoria to convey his special message on the persistent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners to his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The special envoy, who was in Pretoria from last Thursday to Saturday presented his report yesterday to the Nigerian leader at the presidential villa, Abuja.

In a statement issued by the president's spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari expressed his deep concern and other Nigerians about the intermittent violence against the citizens and their property/business interests in South Africa.

He said that Buhari stressed the need for the South African government to take visible measures to stop all forms of violence against the citizens of brotherly African counntries.

Adesina said that "President Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it.

"The special envoy conveyed the assurance of President Buhari that the Nigerian government is ready and willing to collaborate with the South African government to find a lasting solution to the involvement of a few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the life and property of the larger groups of other law abiding Nigerians and indeed Africans in general, against all forms of attacks including xenophobia.

"President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian government will guarantee the safety of life property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria," he said.

On his part, Adesina said that President Ramaphosa agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing, adding that his government completely rejects such acts, which undermine not only the country's image but also its relations with brotherly African countries.

According to him, President Ramaphosa reaffirmed his stand against criminality and committed to do everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.

"The special envoy also interfaced with his South African counterpart where they reviewed the situation of foreign emigrants in general and Nigerians in particular. They agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property.

"President Buhari has taken note of the report and instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measure the South African government is expected to take.

640 Nigerians Ready To Return Home Tomorrow

Meanwhile, the federal government has that about 640 Nigerians were set to return to the country from South Africa, following a series of xenophobic attacks.

The director-general of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa stated this when she met with the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday

Dabiri-Erewa said that the 640 Nigerians voluntarily registered to come home, adding that they should be expected home in couple of days.

It was however learnt that some of them may arrive in Nigeria tomorrow.

She said: "Two planes will convey them. The envoy will be briefing the president. When we receive the first two batches, we will know how many more will come.

"With the envoy's briefing the president, we will be having everything in place. In the meantime, we continue to demand compensation for Nigerians that have been attacked in South Africa," she said.

Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that arrangements were being made for Nigerians whose passports had expired to get emergency travel certificates to enable them join the homeward journey.

On the case involving South African policemen, she said that eight of them were charged to court for their involvement in previous extra judicial killing of Nigerians while the other four were charged for complicity in the recent attacks.

"Eight policemen are in court over previous killings in South Africa. The case has been on for a while.

"Four policemen were arrested and charged to court over the killing of a Nigerian in his house a while ago. And in the case of Mrs. Uju Ndubuisi Chukwu, the case has been made a high profile one and is being handled by a Brigadier General. We are saying let these cases end so we would know the result", she said.

Mrs Chukwu, deputy director-general of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria was in South Africa to attend the conference of the African Insurance Organisation (AIO) but was murdered in her hotel room in Johannesburg on June 13, 2019.

Dabiri-Erewa also said that it would be the first time South Africa would be charging its policemen to court over the attacks, adding that in the last ones, no life was lost but that property were destroyed.

She cautioned Nigerians intending to migrate to South Africa and other countries that the situation could be worse in the countries they are running to than what they face at home.

The federal government, she said, would continue to educate Nigerians on the stark realities, adding that the present administration was doing everything possible to make Nigeria a better place to live.

Xenophobia, a spur to reposition the nation - ASUU

To the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), President Buhari should to allow the lessons of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa to challenge the fatherhood in him to reposition Nigeria.

Addressing journalists at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital yesterday, ASUU's national president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said that Nigerians would not be forced to join the increasing army of global migrants and wanderers in search of elusive greener pastures if their country was economically buoyant and politically stable.

Flanked by the FUNAAB chapter chairman of the association, Dr. Adebayo Oni and other union leaders, Ogunyemi decried the poor living conditions in Nigeria which had forced some citizens to flee the country in search of non-existing greener pasture abroad.

The ASUU president said that as the federal government begins the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa in response to xenophobic attacks, adequate and sustainable welfare package should be made for them.

Ogunyem explained that with the increasing insecurity, mindless betrayal of the people's trust by elected politicians, mass unemployment of the teeming youths, ethno-religious conflicts and rising cases of violent crimes and criminalities in the country, there were ominous signs of a failing Nigerian nation.

He submitted that if Nigerian leaders fix the country, the citizens would prefer to stay back and rather contribute their quota to the nation's development.

"We have the resources to compete and beat South Africa on any ground such that the respect would be mutual. But, today, they see us as dependent, inferior and people they could just discard with.

"If you go to South Africa universities, maybe 50 percent of their top notch scholars are people from Nigeria or tutored by Nigerians. The academic and intellectual community in South Africa respect Nigerians. But, when you now start to compete with their income section, there is bound to be conflict.

"If we fix our country, South Africa will respect us. We lost our respect the moment we can no longer cater for our citizens. Even if we bring people back from South Africa and we don't have plans for them, they will still find a way of going back.

"ASUU believes that Nigeria is not inferior to any country in this world. What we only need to do is to get our acts right; fix our country; even leading countries in the Western world will respect us. We remain dependent and that is why we call Nigeria dependent peripheral renter country. Nigeria operates at the fringes of global economy.

"If we have a country that does not respect his intellectual community, it will never witness what we call transformation because education is the catalyst for development," he stated.

The union, however, expressed concern over the failure of the federal government to declare a "state of emergency in the education sector" despite the minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu's advocacy in November 2017 during the Inter-Ministerial Retreat.

The union leader lamented that the critical sector of the Nigerian nation, including education, health and power, had continued to deteriorate on account of wanton corruption and the deliberate mismanagement of the economy by an insensitive and reckless ruling class.

ASUU traced the origin of the crisis of the Nigerian university system to the underdevelopment of the Nigerian state by an alignment of local and foreign elements who have captured the body and soul of the country, warning that no nation can develop better that the quality of its education sector.

He urged the government to look into the incentives and welfare for workers in the education sector and addressed them.

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