Following the series of lashing she got on the social media space former Minister of Education Oby Ezekwesili and leaders of the Nigerian community in Western Cape Town had a meeting over the Xenophobic attacks on Nigeria, asking South Africa’s President Ramaphosa to apologise for his Xenophobia statement.
This was made known in a communique issued after the meeting and obtained by Punch in Abuja. Ezekwesili had the meeting on the sidelines of the WEF in Cape Town with the acting President of the Nigerian Community Western Cape, Cosmos Echie and other Nigerian entrepreneurs and professionals.
They described the attacks as Afrophobia, asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to apologise while they called on the South African government to put in place actions necessary to de-escalate the brewing conflict to ensure that the trade agreements between the Nigeria and SA would not be affected.
The communique, as reported by Punch reads, “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 Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement represents and aspires to deliver. 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.
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 empathise 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 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.“
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Other members of the delegation that met with Ezekwesili were the representative of Yoruba community in Cape Town, Chief T.A Odutayo; Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo (Western Cape), Chief Vincent Nzekwe and Secretary, Simon Odumegwu, the Leader of the Ogoni community, Pastor Barry Wuganaale, the current Financial Secretary of NCWC, Fuster Ludjoe, Treasurer of NCWC, Felicia Feni, Ebiere Joseph-Akwunwa, Chukwudi Nwokeabia, Samson Famuyiwa and Sunday Ekene.