Xenophobia attacks: Young professionals condemn reprisals

By O’star Eze, Cyril Mbah
As tension mounts all over the country with the violent response of some Nigerians to the recent outburst of Xenophobia against her people in South Africa, some professional youths condemn the Nigerian students’ vengeful response while proffering solutions to the menace.

Chijioke  Ndukwe, a relationship officer with Diamond Bank PLC, Lagos told Orient Daily that while he totally condemns the act, he has strong doubts that giving South African companies ultimatum to leave the country or embarking on violent protests would solve the problem.

Ndukwe expressed doubt that the South African companies can be made to leave regardless of how much pressure Nigerian Students exert on them, given the gravity of investment they have made in the country and relevance their products and services command. He added that National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) is not what it used to be and is therefore ill equipped to make good their threats.

He however opined that it is the responsibility of the Nigerian government to reach out to the South African government and get the problem sorted out by ensuring that everyone involved in the barbaric act is brought to book. This, he said, would serve as a deterrent to other South Africans.

Graciano Enwerem, 2016/17 best Spoken Word Poet in Nigeria and teacher based in Port Harcourt, on the other hand, said that there is a need to trace the root cause of Xenophobia against Nigerians by South Africans.

In his words, “…if we don’t get to what started off a deed, then its reversal will be farfetched.” Enwerem asserted that the persons who orchestrate xenophobia do so because they think they are being ostracized because of the presence of foreigners.

He suggested that the South African government needs to provide jobs for the poor and uneducated South Africans to disabuse their minds from Xenophobic tendencies and as well provide adequate security for the foreigners in their workforce.

Regarding the ultimatum from NAN, Enwerem expressed happiness that the group is living up to its designation as a pressure group and dispelling the tag of it being a threat. He however commented, “It is a welcome development because sealing a source of government revenue in these dire times seems the only way to effectively draw its attention to an ill.”

Another young professional, Abuchi Onwumelu, chief press secretary to the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Anambra State and reporter with Fides Newspaper expressed shock and sadness at the recurrent xenophobia irrespective of the part Nigeria played in their struggle. He also reiterated that the incident is a result of mal-administration both by the South African government and Nigerian government.

He however condemned the threat of reprisal attack while suggesting that the youths rather vent their anger on their leaders who have refused to give them the Nigeria of their dream thereby making other countries more attractive to them.

“I’ll never support the planned reprisal attacks by the Nigerian students. It is certainly not the way to go. They should be made to understand that we Nigerians will also suffer the resultant effects. After attacking the South African companies, what next? Let’s drop the idea. It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” Onwumelu said.

It would be recalled that in Abuja,prominent South African businesses remained closed down over the weekend as fear heightened that aggrieved youths, who vandalised MTN facilities on Thursday may carry out their threat to extend the same treatment to other companies.

Fear and uneasiness crept into the ranks of the South African communities in Abuja and environs, Orient Daily reports, with many choosing to remain indoors and close their business premises until further notice, than risk falling victim to vandalism.

This was following a 48-hour ultimatum issued to the companies by the protesting youths to leave Nigeria. The 48-hour ultimatum ends on mid-night Friday but there is no sign popular businesses like the MTN, DSTV, SHOPRITE among others will drop their alert soon despite the deployment of units of policemen to protect their facilities.

MTN, which became the major target of the demonstrators, issued a statement calling for calm in the two African countries.

The communications giant said that it was concerned by attacks on non-nationals both in South Africa and in Nigeria.

Although MTN has not provided detailed cost of what was lost during the attack at its offices in Abuja, the telecoms company has called on people to exercise restraint and remain calm.

A staff of the MTN who was the Maitama Head-office premises when it was vandalised said customers and members of staff ran for safety while the attack lasted before the intervention of security operatives.

“I just saw people running, then I started running to hide and by the time we came out after the security operatives chased them out, they have packed all the laptops we used to work, all the phones on display for sale, they broke some computers and took people’s personal phones and money,” the staff who pleaded anonymity said.

The source added that cash were also taken but the amount could not be ascertained at the moment.

“They got into the premises, the windscreen of a car was broken , all the doors from the reception to the personal service were destroyed,” the staff said adding that the demonstrators were chanting xenophobia songs even after they were chased outside the premises by security operatives.

FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Manzah Anjuguri when contacted said although he had not been briefed on the incident, the police was on top of the situation.


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