A former presidential candidate in Nigeria, Obiageli Ezekwesili and leaders of the Nigerian community in Cape Town have met to proffer a solution to recurring xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
The meeting held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa, comprising Nigerian entrepreneurs, professionals and the Nigerian community led by Cosmos Echie, the acting President of the Nigerian Community Western Cape (NCWC).
In a communique after the meeting, held in the form of an interactive session, the group preferred to describe the attacks as Afrophobia, the same term South Africa’s foreign affairs minister used to describe the latest waves of anti-foreigners attacks.
The Nigerian community opined that the anti-foreigner crisis is detrimental to the spirit of African renaissance, affirmation of black heritage, progress and development.
They said Afrophobia contradicts everything that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) represents and aspires to deliver.
The group urged governments of Nigeria and South Africa to guide against provocative comments and take preventive measures to avoid a repeat of Afrophobic attacks of Nigerians and other African nationals.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa was also asked to apologise to Nigerians and other countries whose citizens were attacked.
“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,” NCWC said.
The group advised Ramaphosa to visit the victims of the Afrophobia attacks to empathize with and reassure them of their safety in South Africa.
Although the Nigerian government demanded compensation for loss of its citizens from South Africa which was declined, the group, however, asked Ramaphosa to consider paying compensations for losses from the anti-foreigner attacks.
The South African government was also advised to trigger a series of actions necessary to de-escalate the brewing conflict.
This, they said, would ensure that bilateral trade agreements between the countries would not be affected.
“The President of South Africa should send a sharp signal to South Africans and the continent
“South Africa and Nigeria should agree on a mutual legal assistance cooperation scheme for tackling cases of crimes occurring among their citizens.”
NCWC asked the Nigerian High Commission and Nigerians in South Africa to design a fact-based campaign to widely convey the accurate and positive narrative of the value they contribute to their host country.
“The Nigerian government should make visible effort to guarantee the safety and security of South Africans and their businesses in Nigeria.”
They said Ezekwesili promised to offer her expertise in working with the NCWC to ensure that their goal to help achieve a formalising platform of a South Africa-based Nigerians in South Africa.