By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja – Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, has urged the National Assembly to seek aggressive measures in addressing rising rate of attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
He made the call when the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sen. Shehu Sani, visited him on Thursday in Abuja.
At the backdrop of recent killing of Ibrahim Badmus, a 25-year-old Nigerian, during a police raid in Vaal, near Johannesburg, Gambari said it was one killing too many.
He said that it was time the legislators acted more aggressively by prompting the executive to address the problem.
According to him, unless the recurrent problem is addressed, it will affect the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
“I think it is very important for the National Assembly to push the executive to address this issue to ensure that the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa is not destroyed.
“This is in pursuit of implementation of key agenda of the African Union, particularly agenda 2063, for a peaceful, inclusive and prosperous Africa,’’ he said.
Gambari expressed concern that in spite of the major role played by Nigeria in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, its citizens were been attacked.
He said “the Xenophobia against Nigerians and Africans is worrisome.
“It eats me up that Nigeria, a country that has done so much for the struggle against Apartheid is subjected to xenophobic attacks. It is totally unwarranted.
“If they have criminal elements and Nigerians living there do criminal things it is different, but to paint Nigerians as drug dealers or pimps and then subject them to attacks and killing is completely unacceptable.
“I am speaking for Nigerians and I know it applies to Mozambicans, Zimbabweans and all those who made enormous sacrifice so that South Africa can be free.’’
On illegal migration, Gambari called on Nigeria and other African countries to put measures in place to accommodate the youth, who form an integral part of the society.
He said that most illegal migrants in the quest to have better lives in Europe and other parts of the world, ended up as victims of trafficking.
He stated that the trend had become worrisome as some of the victims lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea or ended up as sex slaves.
Gambari pointed out that “there are two factors for migration – the push and the pull.
“We have been dealing more with the pull factor, which is, what is it that is attracting these young Nigerians and other Africans to migrate?
“Unfortunately, those attractions are no longer there because the doors are being shut in their face in Italy, Britain and elsewhere. So, they are not even welcomed where they go to.
“But, I think we should pay more attention to the push factor. What is it that is pushing these young Africans and Nigerians to undertake this horrendously dangerous journey?
“It is a journey in which several perish and even those who survive envy the dead because they are subject to molestation, sexual slavery, sexual harassment and other dehumanising situation.
“We have to look at what is pushing these young people, the future of our respective countries.
“The development of human capital is key, yet it is being lost in the dangerous process.
“Our continent has survived slave trade, colonialism, Apartheid but if we are not careful, the current trend of migration is one battle that will defeat us.’’
The former envoy called for repositioning of the education system, the health sector and other critical sectors that would create employment and ensure better life for the youth.
According to him, some statistics have it that by the year 2050, Nigeria will become the third most populous country in the world, after China and India.
He added that in view of the projection, there was a need for Nigeria to prepare adequately to accommodate the surge in population.
On Myanmar crisis, Gambari called on the leader of the country, Aung San Suu Ky, to take the matter more seriously.
He said that though it was not an African problem, but in view of the global nature of the world, a threat to peace in any part was a threat to all.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for speaking on the issue in his speech at the last General Assembly, where he called for a lasting solution.
Earlier, Sen. Sani said the continuous attack on Nigerians in South Africa was worrisome.
He said, “We have been receiving reports of Nigerians being targeted and killed in a country that we invested in politically and financially during the struggle against Apartheid.
“It is of concern to us that xenophobic attack is damaging our relation as countries and making people to rethink.
“If Africans face racism in Europe and African Americans face attacks in the US, it is very painful to see Africans been attacked within the African continent. It is a major issue of concern to us.’’
Sani also said that the crisis in Myanmar and the Middle East called for concerted efforts, particularly by African leaders for an African proposal to solving the problems.
According to him, while Africa faces its own challenges, it does not stop the leaders from proffering solution to problems in other parts of the world.
He called for a proposal from the African Union on the issues, saying it was time the African continent moved from being participants in world affairs to being part of major decision making.