Xenophobic attack : South Africans paying Nigerians with the wrong coin – Ohuabunwa
* Commends Air Peace CEO for volunteering to air-lift stranded victims
By Steve Oko
Senator Mao Ohuabunwa has strongly condemned the rising wave of xenophobic attacks by South Africans against foreigners in their country particularly Nigerians.
The former Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament, who spoke in Umuahia, said the barbaric act amounted to paying Nigerians with the wrong coin in view of their uncommon sacrifices and messianic role against apartheid era in South Africa.
Ohuabunwa wondered why South Africans should target their follow Africans living in their country for no just cause.
He said Nigeria helped South Africa in their struggle against Aparthied and “does not in any way deserve the type of inhumane treatment to her citizens living and doing their legitimate business in South Africa “.
“This is tantamount to challenging your neighbour to a race after he helped to remove the thorn in your foot “, he said.
“Why is South Africa rewarding our benevolence with snake and scorpion bites? He queried.
Ohuabunwa recalled that from 1966, Nigeria gave material and financial support to the freedom fighters in South Africa which helped in ending apartheid.
According to him, Nigeria refused to sell oil to South Africa in protest against the white minority rule, thereby losing approximately $41 billion in the process.
“This was our oil boom moment then”, he said, adding that “Nigeria also provided $5 million to the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) annually.”
He further recalled that in 1976, Nigeria had set up the Southern Africa Relief Fund (SAFR) for the purpose of bringing relief materials to the victims of the apartheid.
” I remember that Nigerian students skipped their lunch to make donations to aide South Africa against apartheid , and by June 1977, the total contribution to the fund had reached $10.5 million. The donations to the SAFR were widely known in Nigeria as the ‘Mandela tax’.
“Nigeria boycotted the 1976 Olympics and Commonwealth games in 1979 as part of our protest against apartheid in South Africa.
” The citizens of a country who sacrificed this much in support of a sister country do not deserve the type of uncharitable treatment we currently get from South Africa”, Ohuabunwa fumed.
Ohuabunwa who noted that from 1960 to 1995, Nigeria had spent over $61 billion to support the end of apartheid, more than any other country in the world, called for an immediate halt of all hostilities against foreigners in South Africa.
He therefore, tasked the South African authorities to go beyond mere rhethorics and bring perpetrators of the xenophobic attacks to book.
Senator Ohuabunwa also tasked the Federal Government to take the necessary diplomatic steps to bring the ugly development to an end.
He also urged the African Union to call South Africa to order to avoid reprisal attacks in the affected countries.
Senator Ohuabunwa however commended the proprietor of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema for volunteering to air-lift Nigerians fleeing xenophobic attacks from South Africa.
He described the gesture as the hallmark of patriotism, and urged government to also come up with practical measures to assist the affected citizens.