ABUJA – Senators on Tuesday expressed concern over recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa in spite the collective fight against Apartheid.
The senators, who spoke to newsmen in Abuja, recalled how Nigerians were made to contribute to a relief fund to assist South Africa in tackling Apartheid.
Sen. Olusola Adeyeye (APC-Osun Central) said Nigeria had contributed immensely to the liberation of South Africans from oppression and discrimination, and therefore, deserved a pat on the back, not attacks.
He also recalled that beside monetary contributions, some admission slots in Nigerian universities and polytechnics were reserved for South African students during their struggle against apartheid regime.
“I am saddened by the xenophobic attacks because I grew up at a time when students in almost every campus in Nigeria contributed money to South African Relief Fund.
“You can never stop migration. It is a common experience of all animals, not just human beings.
“When you migrate to any country that gives you a visa to enter, the expectation is that that country will extend fundamental human rights to you,’’ Adeyeye said.
Adeyeye said that Nigerians gave voice to the aspiration for freedom in South Africa and ought to be welcomed and not attacked.
He called on the South African Government to prosecute perpetrators of the attacks as well as extend protection to Nigerians and other foreigners within its territory.
He, however, called on the Federal Government to put measures in place to tackle the spate of unemployment in the country, which he said, was largely responsible for migration of Nigerians to other countries.
Sen. Robert Boroffice (APC Ondo North) said the xenophobic attack was a social problem in South Africa that needed to be brought under check to prevent any negative effect on South African economy.
“There have been attempts to stabilise the polity and the economy after the war; unfortunately, many of the South African youths are still unemployed.
“Also, some of the white collar jobs are still held by foreigners. So, you could see this belief that the foreigners have come to take over their economy and jobs, I think that is the major cause of the problem.
“It is something that South Africa has to address,’’ Boroffice said.
Boroffice also called for creation of more jobs in Nigeria to reduce migration of Nigerians to other countries, including South Africa.
He, however, discouraged attacks on South African business in Nigeria, saying that the effect would not be felt as there were few South African businesses and South Africans in Nigeria.
He said that in view of the role Nigeria played in Africa, it would only be proper for it to channel its grievances to the appropriate authorities like the African Union.
On his part, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Sen. Andy Uba (PDP-Anambra South), said it was unfortunate that foreigners had to be molested in South Africa.
Uba urged the South African government not to renege on its promise to bring the situation under control.
“The South African government assured us that nothing else will happen to Nigerians and I don’t think anything has happened to Nigerians that we have got in contact with,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that foreigners in South Africa have been under xenophobic attacks for allegedly taking over employment or business opportunities meant for South African citizens. (NAN)
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