THE Federal Government on Friday described as shameful the silence and inactions of the African Union (AU) on the persistent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission disclosed this during Sunrise Daily, ChannelsTV programme held to discuss and proffer likely solutions to the menace.
She said a stronger policy action becomes imperative to address the problem, especially through the executive arm of both Nigerian and South African governments.
“As the Nigerians were robbed, others were also robbed…the killings of xenophobic attacks against Africans in South African are something South Africans should deal with. I have also said it several times; even the African Union has to intervene,” says Dabiri-Erewa. “It’s a shame that in the 21st century, we are talking about Africans killing Africans when we should be talking about Africa taking the continent to higher levels.”
The Senate, Dabiri-Erewa had earlier warned over the attacks saying it would no longer be tolerated. The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), due to killings also threatened to shut down South African investments in the country.
So far, 118 Nigerians in South Africa have been reportedly killed in recent years.
The former federal lawmaker cited how the South African authorities turned back Nigerians aboard airline to their country, and the Nigerian government had to retaliate. She also mentioned the sudden increase of visa fee by the SA embassy leading to Nigeria taking the same decision.
The former presidential aide, however, disclosed that ministers of foreign affairs from both nations would meet when Nigeria’s cabinet is fully inaugurated to solve the issue and review previous agreements signed by both countries.
She also called for reorientations of the South Africans through billboards, jingles, and cultural exchanges among others to discourage crime rates. She added that eight South African policemen have been charged to court over the killings.
“The ministers at the level of foreign affairs with his counterpart in South Africa will have to review what they put in place called the early warning signals, and if they agreed it’s not working and something stronger needs to be done.
“I’m sure as soon as the minister resume office that will be looked at. I agree, we need a stronger policy in that regard but you can’t tell us we don’t have the moral authority to demand the outcome of investigations. We do and we will.”
Concluding, she noted efforts made to persuade the NANS who had threatened to attack South African investments in the country. “But if you keep hearing every day of deaths, that will be difficult. But we have appealed to them and they have agreed that may not be the solution. But it will get to a point where you can’t just keep begging them anymore.”
In his remarks, Dr. Dapo Thomas, Senior Lecturer at Department of History and International Studies, Lagos State University (LASU) said Nigeria has been in a fixed-position since 1994 for not taking decisive action against the South African government over the years of killings.
He, however, advised the government to use its strength since diplomacy appeared to have failed. “You concentrate on your area of strength and you take it from that position to weaken your adversary”.
Some of the strategies he identified include showcasing superiority in like areas of trade relations, the extent of diplomatic relations and the political clouts of the government.
“These are things you are supposed to utilised but if you fail to use any of these instrumentalities, then what are you doing,” he queried.