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 Xenophobic rage: Why we don’t want to return home

…Shocker from Nigerians who have decided to remain in South Africa

…Reveal cause of attacks

…It’s true their women prefer our men

By Evelyn Usman

As the Air Peace aircraft   that brought   the first batch of 188   Nigerian returnees from South Africa, landed   at the tarmac of the Muritala Mohammed International Airport , Lagos, Wednesday night, the returnees were welcomed into the warmth arms of some government officials and relatives, amidst different expressions on their faces.

Xenophobic Attack

Six hundred others who willingly decided to return home, in order to escape the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, are still awaiting their turn to board the next available flight.

South Africa vows crackdown on xenophobic attacks after five die(Opens in a new browser tab)

But with a   record of over 30,000 Nigerians living in South Africa, one would have expected the number of returnees to be more that 688.

Investigation by Saturday Vanguard   on why the number of voluntary returnees is low, showed that most Nigerians are still weighing the option. Meanwhile,     back in South Africa, foreign nationals among who are Nigerians, are still locked indoors for fear of further attacks, with their work places still      a shadow of what they used to be.

In a telephone conversation with some of them in different provinces, they blamed the economic condition back home   in Nigeria, as the   major reason they are reluctant to return.

One of them, Ferdnard Ikechukwu , who was asked why he did not use the opportunity of the free flight back to Nigeria, said, “ Come to Nigeria to do what? Is the situation there better than what we have here? Are Boko Haram not killing people at will? Are there no militia groups who take laws into their hands and waste innocent lives in Nigeria? What about all the killings back home by bandits, herdsmen kidnappers? What has the government done to address them?

“  Besides, will government give me job? Will I return and fold my hands watching my aged parents feed me , my wife and children? I will rather remain here and pray for God’s protection”.

Electricity  

Another Nigerian, Osasoyen Idemia, said “ Government is saying we should come home when there are no plans on ground for us. If the Nigerian government will address the issue of electricity, about 75% of Nigerians in South Africa will return home because our work needs unhindered electricity supply. If there is constant electricity supply   in Nigeria, Nigerians who have invested here in South Africa will return home. This is an essential need government must address”.

On his part, Mr Uche Ozioma, said, “ It is not as if I do not want to return home. But I have already established a business here. I have been here for 20 years and I have branches in seven provinces. I have four children, all graduates. Two of them are married to South Africans. I go home (Nigeria ) every December to spend Christmas with my parents and relatives. Tell me, if I leave here, where would I start from ?”

Another Nigerian Edome Asemota , said, “ I can’t leave because there is no hope for me back home. I came into South Africa, three years ago, having spent five years in Nigeria without a job. I did all kinds of menial jobs to eke a living, while in Nigeria, yet , I could not rent one-room apartment. Besides, pressure was on me to get married because I am an only child.

File: Returnees 

“My course mate back in the university invited me to South Africa three years ago. I started as a sales boy in a car mart   in Malvern , a suburb of Johannesburg. I also help people wash cars. At least I could save reasonable amount. The only problem here is the xenophobic attacks. My prayer is that God will spare my life”.

Cause of attacks

Also,   an auto parts dealer, who simply gave his name as Dino, attributed the cause of the attacks on Nigerians and   nationals from other   African countries   to what he described as   lackadaisical attitude of the   South African Government to checkmate   excesses of the perpetrators of the attacks.

Dino said, “ The attacks are perpetrated by youths who live in   hostels. These hostels are in Hillbrow, Malvern, Orlando and almost     all   the provinces. They are homes provided by government to jobless people. Aside this, they are paid monthly.

xenophobia: No Nigerian arrested during evacuation from South Africa(Opens in a new browser tab)

“Those living in the homes are being used by some government officials to distort the country. They target foreign nationals because that is the only way to   gain international attention. They launch attack any time they want money from government. By the time they get the money, the whole place will be calm.

“  There has been call to scrap these hostels and give these people jobs. But they are not ready to work because they are used to getting free money. Claims that South African women go after men from other countries and abandon their men is not false. Their women accuse   their men   of not   spending much on them as   men from other countries   do.

“  At the moment , everyone is  indoors. Fortunately, the ongoing crisis   is not only   affecting Nigerians and other foreign nationals. It is also affecting South Africans because some of them owned the burnt   shops we rented for our businesses.   Also some buildings that were destroyed are owned by South Africans.

For instance, I have three South Africans as employees. Like me, they have not reported to work since last Monday’s attack. The solution is not in Nigerians or other African countries nationals leaving South Africa. It is left   in the hands of the South African government to address activities of these hostel boys”.

Vanguard

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