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Has N1 trn MTN fine worsened South Africa’s xenophobia?

By Sunday Adole Jonah

UNTIL Nigerians learn to face truth and learn to live with it, we will continue to delude ourselves and subsequently get stuck in the habit of making poor judgements based on faulty analyses of situations.

If this becomes a national habit, then other people will see Nigerians as basically half-learned and emotionally-charged when they make policies.

Already, Nigeria has been designated the poverty capital of the world as well as the emerging wire-fraud capital of the world.

MTN

Let us pause and learn from history: One of the remarkable events in 1983  was the anti-African xenophobia that took place in Nigeria. Recall that under the Second Republic civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Nigeria displayed a virulent anti-Ghanaian action that has given us the folksy vocabulary known as “Ghana-must-go”. That is used to reference a brand of hardcore jute bag that those hapless Ghanaians back then were forced to pack their belongings and head for home.

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Today, many Nigerians are still insensitive to think that “Ghana-must-go” is cool because it evokes memories of Nigeria as an economic magnet for other African migrants in the past. Does this not remind us of South Africa of 2019?

It will further do well for those older Nigerians to recall that “Ghana-must-go” or not, not all Ghanaians scrammed home and those who stayed put reasoned that Nigeria was still better off than home of 1984-85.

Does this still not remind us of South Africa of 2019? The Max plane on standby to bring Nigerians back home will remain empty for as long as Nigeria’s policy-and decision-makers still live in denials.

When the current government came to office in 2015, Nigeria’s first xenophobic target was South Africa, whence that country’s giant multinational, MTN, was hit with a spurious fine equal to its 10-year operating profit for surprisingly “encouraging” Boko Haram by not de-registering the SIM cards of that terror group’s operatives.

Did anyone inside Aso Rock honestly believe that South Africans are utter fools to just be taken for a cheap ride knowing that a good chunk of Nigeria’s public office holders had invested heavily in the South African economy since Western banks became increasingly discomfited with stolen monies flowing out of Africa?

To the South Africans, the insinuation that MTN supports Boko Haram was vile reasoning because one of Boko Haram’s modus operandi was always to hit mobile communications towers wherever they wish to operate, thus imperiling smooth communication lines.

Truth was that MTN assisted the Goodluck Jonathan government to do triangulations by pinpointing the exact locations of Boko Haram terrorists to the then functional and very effective Department of State Services, DSS, under Mr. Ita Ekpenyong. Maybe, MTN was really punished for aiding the fight against Boko Haram!

The Buhari government went further to menace MTN-linked financial institutions like Diamond Bank and others, whilst threatening to impose huge sales tax on liquor knowing the South Africans have also invested in the brewery industry in Nigeria.

Really, what kind of world does government think we are living in? A world where you hurt the investors who take risks to come into the country because Western investors are packing out and you still expect South Africans to see you as some “giant” calling the shots in the continent?

Nigerians should do retrospective soul-searching with respect to this South African thing.

  • Jonah is of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State

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