George Oko in Makurdi
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called on Nigerians to withdraw patronage of businesses with South Africa interest in Nigeria.
The call by Chairman, NANS Joint Campus Committee, Niger State Axis, Hussaini Ebbo, was in reaction to recurring killing of Nigerians in South Africa, and the recent strangling of Mrs. Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu.
Until the tragedy, Ndubuisi-Chukwu was Deputy Director-General of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria. She was in South Africa for a conference and was killed in her hotel room in Johannesburg.
Ebbo made the call at a meeting of NANS with Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State in Minna yesterday, where he expressed the association’s concern over the killings of Nigerians in South Africa.
He urged Nigerians to stop patronising MTN, DSTV and Stanbic IBTC, advising that they should move over to alternative network providers such as Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat.
Ebbo said that no fewer than 200 lives of innocent Nigerians had been cut short through xenophobic attacks in South Africa between 2016 and now, and declared that the trend was unacceptable.
“I wish to once again condemn in strong terms the indiscriminate looting and killing of Nigerians, who are either residing or visiting South Africa.
“The only way to stop further killings of Nigerians in South Africa is to picket all the business entities owned by South Africans in Nigeria.
“As Africans, we had expected that the South Africa xenophobic attack on any African should have long been repudiated by the government and people of South Africa,” he said.
He explained that it was now obvious that South Africans see Nigerians as competitors, not as brothers and sisters, and warned that such acts would no longer be accepted.
Ebbo said that Nigerians in South Africa deserved to be treated with dignity, respect and freedom “and mostly be protected from further provocation, looting and killings’’.
He disclosed that the association had planned to embark on peaceful demonstration against the incessant killings, but was advised by security agencies to step down the action due to security challenges in the country.
Responding, Bello said that the killings of Nigerians in South Africa called for sober reflection, noting that such act was condemnable and unacceptable in any society.
“As Nigerians, we must be respected in an African country, especially in South Africa which benefitted a lot from Nigeria. It is a wake-up call to every Nigerian.
“It is a situation that should not be accepted anywhere in the world, Nigerians are peaceful people, therefore must be allowed to live their lives peacefully,” he said.
Bello, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, assured that the concern and grievances of NANs would be transmitted to the federal government.
He commended the association for resorting to a peaceful way to register their concerns and pledged government’s continuous support to all students’ activities in the state.
Meanwhile, NANS yesterday shut down MTN and DSTV main offices in Benue State in protest against the continued killings of Nigerians in South Africa.
NANS Deputy Zonal Coordinator, Zone C, Abah Owoicho who led the protest to shut down the offices, also presented a strong worded letter of protest to the organisations.
Owiocho said the letter was a condemnation of the years of barbaric killings of Nigerians in South Africa.
“Since Nigerians living in South Africa cannot enjoy the same peace and support that South African businesses are enjoying here, it is only reasonable to shut down those businesses and their interests until further notice,’’ he said.
The student leader also frowned at the recent killing of a Nigerian student, Dennis Obiaju, describing it as “barbaric’’.
“We believe that the international community is also watching these developments,’’ he said.
Ms Vera Ube, MTN Connect Manager in Makurdi, received the protest letter on behalf of MTN.
She told the students that the management and staff of MTN were not in support of the killings as it had condemned such anti-development actions any time they occurred.
Ube, however, said she would forward the letter to the appropriate quarters for consideration.
“It is unfortunate that our people are being killed in South Africa, the management of MTN is not happy and we are not in support of the killings in South Africa.’’