By Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, describing it as “a blot on our common history.”
The former vice president called on the South African government to carry out a comprehensive inquiry into the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and bring the culprits to book, explaining that it will go a long way in curbing the attacks.
In a statement he signed, the former vice president said, “It is perhaps the most disturbing development in the turn of the century that Nigerians who live in the Republic of South Africa have consistently been victims of xenophobic violent attacks. Unfortunately, both countries have not done enough to reduce the spate of those attacks”.
He said that both Nigeria and South Africa shared a history of brotherhood and camaraderie at different times in the difficult times and it was very important that both countries do not allow this ugly development cause a blot in their shared history.
According to Atiku, “While I will recommend that both countries press all available diplomatic buttons as fast as possible, it is equally important to impress on citizens from both sides to see ourselves as brothers and never as adversaries.
“True, the days of Apartheid in South Africa and military rule in Nigeria are far behind us, we still both have a common enemy, and that is in expanding the space for economic prosperity to a large range of our peoples”.
The PDP presidential flag bearer said that the new battle is economic in nature and it will be delusional for both Nigeria and South Africa to think that it is a battle both nation’s can win in isolation of each other.
“Neither and never can victory in the economic battle come by the way of turning daggers at each other”, Atiku said.
According to the former vice president, “For Nigeria to realize her economic potentials, we must be ready to welcome and protect South Africa investments on our soil, and ditto for South Africa to welcome and protect Nigeria’s investment in capital and manpower.”
He said that there were no short cuts to this, explaining further, “The only path to success in the battle against poverty and lack of economic empowerment to our peoples will require Nigerians and South Africans to soldier on as brothers and sisters.
“It must involve governments from both ends to rework our bilateral trade agreements and statutes to respond to the realities of this time”, Atiku stated.
Meeanwhile, Atiku urged that the Nigeria High Commission in South Africa should open its doors for all humanitarian support that could be required of them from Nigerian victims of these attacks
Also, he said that it will be a good take off ground for solution to this problem for the South African government to cause a probe into the attacks and bring all perpetrators to book.