SO, the South Africans do not want  Nigerians in their country! The Warri man will say “such is life”.  Sonny Okosun of blessed memory will turn in his grave.

Remember his hit song , Who  owns the land?’ Same situation applies to Murtala Muhammed, the Nigerian head of state who nationalised British businesses in Nigeria for the sake of apartheid in South Africa and other frontline states. I do not know what is going on in the mind of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s  now.  He was part of the fight, like in other matters. I hope he has not done an about turn.

The South Africans who were in Nigeria during the 70s and 80s are now in leadership positions in present day South Africa and they are watching. It is as if the South Africans, like Nigeria have removed history from their education curricula. If they haven’t, how do they explain the show of shame we are made to watch every day on international media. The disdain for Nigerians is beginning to take an official slant. A visit to the South African embassy for travel visa tells the story better.

If somebody like Mr. Sanya Oni, a senior media personnel and editorial page editor of ‘The Nation’ newspaper, who has a lot of international travelling experience, could be treated in such shoddy manner – see details on his face book page – imagine what is happening to ordinary Nigerians seeking visas to travel to South Africa. What the South Africans are doing to Nigerians in South Africa is unacceptable. Where is the Nigerian pride? This nation stood up to face the big countries of the world to ensure freedom for South Africa and other frontline states, what is our reward for all of these? Do we have more criminals than South Africa?  Have we fallen so low that we have now become the laughing stock and reject of the world? The most populous black nation on earth, blessed with both human and natural resources, what is it that drives us out into hostile foreign lands? If you see the efforts Nigerians put into travelling abroad, a little of such effort to positive pursuits here in Nigeria will yield tremendous results. But we almost always  choose to go to foreign countries with all the uncertainty involved, humiliation and at times, sudden death? Do we really know our potentials? Do we know our strengths? If we do, how do we put them to use? Or, why are we in this mess?

With the South African government under Jacob Zuma pretending as though nothing is wrong, it is time for self discovery  for us. Nigerians have been known to be the most productive immigrants, never mind the negligible few with criminal tendencies. Also, we have added value to any society we have found ourselves, including South Africa and others now displaying hostility towards us. We have hosted, supported and treated them as fellow African brothers but, what have we got in return? Disdain.

So, I ask: Can we do without South Africa? If yes, why don’t we just let them be and we maintain learn to stay in our country.  What is it that the South Africans have that we do not have here in Nigeria, or, is it because of the support they are receiving from the white South Africans, because the black South Africans have proven themselves to be as incompetent as other African nations?

We have seen parliamentarians rise up on the floor of the House, calling the present President a thief. So, what moral right has the South Africans to call us names? If the South Africans do not want us, what are their big businesses and citizens doing in Nigeria? What have these companies done to make their people back home to understand that a cordial relationship with Nigeria is to their advantage? Why are the South African elite not educating their people?

Let us leave the South Africans for now. What is the Nigerian government doing about this situation? Is it that the government has abandoned its citizens abroad? As we have not heard any strong words of protests or action from them. If a government has chosen to disrespect and abandon its citizens abroad, what do you expect from the foreigners? A government that cannot arrest the activities of herdsmen and other security challenges that abound in Nigeria, how can they address the sufferings of those abroad? And, these Nigerians work very hard to send money home, to take care of families and friends, thus serving as a veritable source of foreign exchange.

What is responsible for  our youths and able bodied men moving in droves out of the country to other countries? We must consider this. The solution is not to go abroad as it was in the past. As we can now see, all over Europe and America, nationalistic sentiments are now beginning to set in. For example,  for Donald Trump, it is America for the Americans. Theresa May wants more powers so that she can effectively execute the Brexit decision.

We must see Nigeria first as the centre point of our foreign policies. All of the countries that we have assisted in the past have not given us our due, even Benin republic that is our closest neighbour, is in the forefront of our economic sabotage, all the rice and other prohibited items in Nigeria come through their borders. A close look at their activities reveals they do not consume these items there. All of them are in transit, destined for the Nigerian market.

We have supported Liberia, Sierra leone, Sudan, Congo, Somali and others at very huge costs, but what have we got in return? Some of these countries gave initial shelter to insurgents like the Boko Haram group until they became uncontrollable. Our thinking must be Nigeria first, our government must ensure that all Nigerians,  whether home or abroad are adequately represented.

Mr. Sunny Ikhioya Twitter: @SunnyIkhioya

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