Xenophobia: Nigerian professors suggest solution

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

Abdullahi Ashafa, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academics, Kaduna State University (KASU), on Wednesday urged the Nigerian government to shift its foreign Policy from African centred to citizens centred.

Mr Ashafa, a professor of Diplomatic and Military History, made the call during a Discourse on “Xenophobia in South Africa: Its Origins, Trends and Remedies”, organized by the History Department of KASU.

He said Nigeria must abandon its “Father Christmas“ foreign policy which leaves it with nothing to show for it, to a more rewarding foreign policy beneficial to Nigerians.

He said that rather than cry over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, the federal government should make the country attractive as a destination for greener pasture.

According to him, the foreign policy of a country depends on the strength of its economy, military and leadership.

He therefore called on Nigerian leaders to live up to their responsibilities to make Nigeria great and attractive.

“We are living in past glories by telling South Africans our roles in their liberation struggle, which they have all forgotten and treated as event of the past.

“Our country has retrogressed and became irrelevant because we have been surpassed by countries that once looked up to Nigeria as a destination for better living.

“We have been sleeping for too long, governed by corrupt, gluttonous, predatory and irresponsible clique of elite.

“We have allowed our corruption, terrorism, banditry, lawlessness and laziness, bad roads, non-functional institutions and infrastructure to define us, which allowed the world to treat us as bunch of criminals,“ he noted.

The professor further said: “If anything, the South African events should wake us up as Nigerians once woke up Ghana in the 1980s, with the popular slogan ‘Ghana Must GO’.

“Today, Ghana is the envy of not only Nigerians but the rest of African countries,“ Mr Ashafa said.

He, however, advised the South African Government to educate its citizens to embrace the African identity and run an inclusive government to attract more skilled Africans to create an ‘America in Africa’.

The DVC explained that, as the most industrialized economy on the continent, South Africa is the only country that could provide economic opportunities to African professionals.

The South African justice system, he said, must also wake up to its responsibilities, stressing that over 400 foreigners were killed between 2008 to date and none of the perpetrators was convicted.

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On his part, Jeremiah Methuselah, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Arts, KASU, said the xenophobia was not fear of foreigners but deep-seated hatred of South Africans against their fellow Africans.

Mr Methuselah blamed the unabated attacks on fellow blacks Africans, on economic competition, false nationalism, the feeling of superiority over fellow blacks and exclusive nature of the country’s governance.

He explained that the many years of apartheid has robbed the South Africans of their self-esteem and isolated them from other Africans, stressing the need to help them out of their current psycho-phobia.

Another discussant, Suleiman Shehu, Director, Centre for Basic Studies, KASU, noted that apartheid was abolished in 1994, but the mental effect remained with the South Africans.

According to him, Africans need fellow Africans to move forward as a continent, adding that embracing inclusive policies would help attract more ideas and skills needed for growth and development.

Earlier, the Chairman of the event, Terhemba Wuam, Dean Students Affairs, KASU, said that History Department had continued to set agenda in discussing issues of national and international interest.

Mr Wuam, the immediate past Head of the department, said that the 90 per cent of those controlling the South African economy were western foreigners.

He said that the intense competition on the 10 per cent economic opportunities by the indigenous population and other Africans was among major factors fueling xenophobic attacks.



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