Tells Diaspora Nigerians to use their resources to develop Nigeria
South Africa owes its freedom to Nigeria— Ramaphosa
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Buhari on Friday said that he was shocked over the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. He described the attacks of foreign nationals in the country as embarrassment to the African continent.
President Buhari who stated this in Pretoria, when he met with Nigerians in the Diaspora in South Africa, advised them to always remember their country with skills, resources and talents, and work towards living decent and dignified lives that bring honour to their fatherland.
Recall that President Buhari left Nigeria for South Africa on Wednesday after presiding over the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and to have bilateral discussion with him.
He advised Nigerians in South Africa to be diligent, focused and resourceful in all their engagements, especially in improving their net worth through learning new skills, good education and building their networks positively.
According to him, “First, you are our Ambassadors and the face of our country to the world wherever you are. The world is therefore, watching you and would make judgments on Nigeria based on your comportment and actions.
“Second, in whatever legitimate engagement you find yourself, you must strive to excel and be the best.
“Third, while you are out in the Diaspora, do not forget home. You represent some of the best human assets that Nigeria has. With your education and exposure to the world, you are at the cutting edge of technology.
“I, therefore , urge you to use your resources, skills and talents to help the development of Nigeria.”
President Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, told the gathering, which included students, traders, medical doctors, clerics and academics, that an agency had been established by the Federal Government, headed by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, to guide them on how to actualize their contributions to the country.
On the outbreak of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, he said, “The recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa.
“It was an embarrassment to the continent. Let me again use this medium to condole with the families of all those who lost their lives over the years in such tragic incidents. May their souls rest in peace.”
He also commiserated with those who were injured, praying for their quick recovery, and sympathized with those who lost property and other valuables.
“As a government, we are quite disturbed by these very unfortunate events and have taken actions and measures to address this issue and prevent their re-occurrence with the South African government.
“I had earlier directed the evacuation of Nigerians who do not feel safe to remain here. Over five hundred have returned home and are being reintegrated into their communities.
“At this juncture, I wish to express my profound gratitude to Chief Allen Onyeama, the Chairman of Air Peace Airlines, who showed compassion and patriotism by immediately offering to evacuate our Nigerian brothers and sisters who had been affected by these xenophobic attacks,’’ he said.
He assured Nigerians that the South African authorities had expressed their apologies over the incidents and resolved to take necessary steps to end the ugly trend.
“We have just inaugurated the Nigeria/South Africa Bi-National Commission at the level of Heads of State with a firm determination to further bring our two countries together in a mutually beneficial partnership. Let us therefore give peace a chance and pray we have seen the last of this ugly violence,’’ the President said.
Speaking at the state banquet, the South African President said that the country owes its freedom to the people of Nigeria and the African continent.
President Ramaphosa, said “the government of his country would not forget the sacrifice made by Nigerians towards the freedom of the country from apartheid regime.
“We owe our freedom to the people of Nigeria and the people of Africa. “We pay tribute to Nigeria’s tireless support for the international campaign against apartheid.
“We will not forget how Nigeria spearheaded the call for political and economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa following the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960, which left many unarmed demonstrators dead.
“We will not forget the great sacrifices made by the Nigerian people in the 1970s and 1980s for the freedom that South Africans enjoy today.
“Without Nigerian support, our freedom would have come at a much greater cost.
” We will never forget the great debt we owe you and we will never allow the lawless actions of a few to undermine the bonds of friendship between our peoples.
“Today, in that spirit of solidarity, we reaffirmed the strategic bilateral relations between our two countries.
” We further committed ourselves to working together to enhance close political, economic and social cooperation in keeping with our mutual desire to establish a special relationship between the two countries.
” To concretise this, we have today inaugurated the first session of the Bi-national Commission presided over at Heads of State level, again symbolising the cordial and time-tested relations and the high esteem with which we regard our bilateral relations.”
In his remark, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, commended the President for the maturity and diplomatic tact he used in resolving the challenge with the South African government.
He said the government had put in place a mechanism to ensure that the unfortunate incidents were never repeated again.
Members of the Nigerian community thanked the President for the visit, assuring him that they will be more careful in their dealings within the country, and work towards harmony at all times.
The leaders of various communities in South Africa, led by Ben Okoli, commended Chief Onyeama, for his quick intervention, and the historic roles the Nigerian High Commissioner, Amb. Kabir Bala and Consul General, Mr Godwin Adama, played in protecting and providing for citizens.