August 14, 2013

Reactions trail protests by S-African women married to Nigerians

ABUJA—Mixed reactions, yesterday, trailed reports of a protest by South African women married to Nigerians, who were protesting alleged stigmatisation, discrimination, and humiliation by government departments and agencies and officials of the South African government.

While some commentators condemned the alleged discrimination outright, others suggested caution on the part of the Nigerian government before taking any action.

A retired Nigerian diplomat, Ambassador Dahiru Suleiman, called on the Nigerian Government to investigate the claims by the South African women before making any statement.

Ambassador Suleiman, who served in Pakistan, Brazil, Angola, United State of America, Ivory Coast, Poland, Austria and twice in Sudan, spoke with Vanguard yesterday in Abuja.

He said: “In all the countries I have served, a lot of Nigerians go ahead with what is known as arrangee marriage just to remain in that country.

“You also see them making a lot of money, buying big houses and big cars, and when you ask them what they do, they will tell you that they are businessmen.

“Many of them are not doing any legitimate work and they go ahead buying all these things. Let me ask you, which country do you think will be happy with such people?

“The same thing is applicable in Kenya. Many Nigerians go ahead to marry old women that they cannot even bring back to Nigeria. Sometimes when I see them I feel pity for them. In all these countries, I noticed that Nigerians specialise in this arrangee marriage.

“That is why I am saying that we should be careful in making statements that we will live to regret tomorrow.”

A former member of House of Representatives and human rights activist, Mr. Uche Onyeagocha described the alleged discrimination against South African women married to Nigerians by the South African government as unfortunate.

Onyeagocha, who represented Owerri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, said that going by the role the Nigerian government played during the apartheid regime in South Africa, the country would have no justification to discriminate or stigmatise their women for marrying Nigerians.

He said: “If the story is true, then it will be most unfortunate. I am sure that the South African Constitution, which is one of the best constitutions in the world today, will not have any room for such discrimination.

“I will urge such women to proceed without hesitation to court to fight against such discrimination.

“It will be wrong for the South African government to discriminate against its citizens because they are married to Nigerian men, given Nigeria’s role during the apartheid years.”