By Lanre Alfred
The executive governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has sued for peace and tolerance in the wake of xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
The governor made his call as tension mounts and the Federal Government expressed “deep concern” over persistent attacks against Nigerians resident in South Africa.
According to Abiodun, this is the time for aggrieved parties to exhibit patience and caution as officials of both countries meet to resolve the ugly situation and salvage the friendly ties that had hitherto sustained their relationship as business associates and neighbours.
Rumours of a reprisal attack against the South African franchise, Shoprite, in Lekki axis of Lagos by a mob of protesters has generated concerns over the situation.
Nigerians at home and abroad are particularly aggrieved over persistent attacks against compatriots living in South Africa; mobs comprising natives of the host nation, descend on business hubs and townships in various parts of South Africa, looting dozens of shops and torching trucks driven by foreigners in a surge of anti-migrant sentiment.
Nigerians have suffered heavy losses in the heat of such attacks.
Just a week after xenophobic attacks erupted in Pretoria and two months after Nigerians were being attacked in Hillbrow, the South Africa is experiencing yet another spate of xenophobic attacks which began yesterday.
According to media reports, two people have been confirmed dead, including a woman who was shot at close range. A hundred others have been arrested thus far.
The reasons for the xenophobic attacks echo the pervasive anti-immigrant sentiment around the world. In a country with growing inequality, unemployment and poverty, many disenfranchised South Africans feel that foreign nationals are responsible for the lack of job opportunities and increasing crime.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the wave of xenophobic attacks by South Africans against foreign nationals, especially Nigerians across the country.
The attacks, he said, unjustifiable and condemnable.
Ramaphosa also promised to summon a security meeting with ministers on Tuesday to discuss ways of halting the attacks.
The President, in a post on his verified Twitter handle, said: “ I condemn the violence that has been spreading around a number of our provinces in the strongest terms.
“I’m convening the ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them.
“The people of our country want to live in harmony; whatever concerns or grievances we may have, we need to handle them in a democratic way.
“There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries.”
“We express our deep pain, support, solidarity and love to the families, friends and loved ones of all those who have lost their lives in the last month (Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Nolunde Vumsindo, Meghan Cremer, Jesse Hess to mention but a few).
“Our security forces are on high alert. Whilst in no way, can we take away the sense of deep loss and unbearable pain you experience, as a country we commit ourselves to continue to work tirelessly to building the kind of South Africa, where indeed women and children will be safe.”