The National Association Of Nigerian Students through the office of the National President, Comrade Danielson Bamidele Akpan, has officially written President Muhammadu Buhari, to intimate him on it’s decision to boycott further invitations from South African authorities to discuss xenophobic attacks.
Stating that the association has passed the time for negotiations over the continuous killings of Nigerians, Comrade Danielson Bamidele Akpan adviced the presidency to reconsider the meeting with South African authorities, citing conspiracy from elites and subsequent sabotage.
He also called for the review of bilateral agreements between Nigeria and South African for the overall interest of both nations and their citizens
The open letter reads;
NANS OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
11th September, 2019
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR,
President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces,
Federal Republic of Nigeria
PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI; YOU MUST SAVE THE LIVES OF NIGERIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA NOW
Permit us to use this medium to commend your statesmanship and deep restraint over recent provocative attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in the Republic of South Africa.
Though, uncomfortable with the disposition, thoughtfully however, it has helped in ensuring fair cry on the Nigerian side. Your singular disposition to peaceful resolution of issues relating to Xenophobia has considerably kept Nigerians out of aggression against the South Africans.
Mr President, as you already know, Nigerians living in or visiting South Africa has come under heavy attacks coordinated by South Africans leading to loss of lives and properties. Businesses owned by Nigerians have become major target for destruction whilst South Africans continue unabatedly in their call for Nigerians to leave their country.
So far, more than 300 Nigerians have lost their lives to Xenophobic attacks between 2009 and 2019. Out of these figure, more than 70% of occurrences have been under reported.
Your Excellency, most worrisome is the fact that Nigerian teenagers and especially school pupils are not spared in these coordinated attacks. More than 10 Nigerian school children have lost their lives in Xenophobic violence perpetrated by South Africans.
Between July 2019 and now, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has made several peaceful processes at drawing global attention to the Xenophobic violence against Africans by South Africans through actions such as picketing of South African businesses in Nigeria, engaging local and international media, writing letters through several mediums to South African authorities particularly, President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa.
Mr President, in all of these, it may interest you to know that no one South African business or citizen has been targeted or attacked either deliberately or mischievously by Nigerian students.
Today, we write to you as the father of our nation, to rise up in defence of Nigerians and indeed all Africans in South Africa.
We are convinced that previous diplomatic efforts have been undermined due to the insincerity and noncommittal of the South African government to reining in the xenophobic violence by her people against other African nationals.
On the 8th September, 2019, South Africans renewed their call on foreign nationals to leave. The danger this new call portend is unimaginable as lots of Nigerians especially in Gauteng province and major parts of Johannesburg can no longer freely move from their homes to pursue livelihood.
Just two days ago, 9th September, the South African Defence Minister, once again justified Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians. Mr President, this is a key moment for the government and people of Nigeria to push to protect the human rights of the victims of Xenophobia in South Africa, as this alone will maintain the dignity of our people globally.
Nigeria, under your capable leadership ought to make it clear to the South African authorities that the victims of the heinous attacks have inalienable right to seek remedy and reparation.
The South Africans and its government must not only avoid recurrence but must be made responsible to pay compensation and rehabilitate those traumatised by Xenophobic attacks.
Mr. President, the impact of the violence and attacks on Nigerian women and children has been particularly devastating, as children of Nigerian nationals could no longer attend school due to fear of attacks. There are even provinces where they were out rightly denied access to education.
Statements credited to the high and mighty in South Africa suggests clearly that majority of the elites are either encouraging or enjoying the unabating violence.
This is unimaginable and must not continue. Nigerians deserve every protection of their lives and properties anywhere they chose to reside and this the Nigerian government must provide for them.
Mr. President, we have respected the South Africans enough, considering our big brother role during apartheid, even till now, our citizens therefore deserve respect and love from all South Africans.
We are no longer in doubt that the South African authorities have failed, repeatedly as it were to take any practical action to end Xenophobic attacks.
They have continued to incite their citizens against Nigerians and portrayed our citizens as criminals. The Police authorities in South Africa times without number have been seen supervising molestation and harassment of Nigerians and occasionally involved in extra judicial killing of our people.
Mr. President there is no begging the need for South Africans to imbibe a culture of respect for human rights of other nationals. Nigeria can play a noble role by out rightly calling on the South African authorities to ensure broad reforms that guarantee the human rights of Nigerians and indeed all other nationals residing in South Africa.
Your Excellency, we are aware of your scheduled meeting with the South African President in October. Much as we are pleased with such efforts aimed at ensuing peace, we are dissatisfied that the rate at which Nigerians are targeted and their businesses destroyed, there might be no Nigerian again when you arrive South Africa.
More so, we are of the opinion that President Cyril Ramaphosa and indeed the South Africa people ought to see the necessity and the morality in the urgency to visit you, here at Aso Rock, to apologize for their inhuman actions against our people.
As leaders of the students, many attempts have been made to lure us to South Africa. We have consistently rejected the invitation and shall continue to do so until no Nigerian is in danger or live under fear of Xenophobic attack anymore. Their business organizations have equally offered several baits, we have equally rejected vehemently. You may wish, Your Excellency, to reconsider your visit to South Africa and step up global mobilization against Xenophobia actions in South Africa.
Our government should be decisive in taking concrete measures that puts an end to the madness by the South Africans.
Your Excellency, Nigerian Students therefore makes the following demands;
Our citizens in South Africa own small businesses compared to multinational establishments owned by South Africans in Nigeria. We should begin by revoking licenses of major South African companies in our nation and nationalise them. Companies such as Multi choice, MTN, Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank, PEP, Shoprite and others should all be affected in the revocation/nationalisation agenda. This singular action may pressurize the government and people of South Africa to do the needful.
No amount of compensation is enough to wipe away the pains Nigerians have had to go through all these undeserved attacks. However, the Federal Government should insist that adequate compensation ‘must’ be paid by the South African authorities to all the victims of Xenophobic attack. This will deter the South African citizens from carrying out further attacks on Nigerians and place the burden of restitution on both their government and citizens.
Your Excellency, the Nigerian Diaspora Commission has done well in situating the issues as they were but should be supported to chronicle Xenophobic incidences involving Nigerians, generate data of those affected and evaluate damages and draw the compensatory figure to be forwarded to the South African government for immediate action.
Also, a review of all bilateral agreements between Nigeria and South Africa should be considered in the overall interest of both countries and her citizens.
Your Excellency, Nigerians especially those in Diaspora rely on your proactive intervention to guarantee their dignity and rights, this is the moment for us as a nation to assert and assure them of that obligation.
While we have resolved to gather more support for our citizens through several peaceful processes that aims at ending Xenophobic attacks, we assure Your Excellency, and indeed all Nigerians across the globe of sustained agitation devoid of violence, looting or molestation of any South African on the Nigerian soil. We reiterate that the South African businesses shut down operations pending when our citizens regain their freedom and enjoy all rights as humans in South Africa.
We pray God grants you the wisdom, energy and power to lead Nigerians through this season of painful provocations.
Comr. Danielson Bamidele-Akpan, GCNS
Global President, NANS