The story that made headlines around the world this past week would, unarguably, be the xenophobic attack by South Africans on Nigerians. That attack drew condemnation all around the world and no single nation supported it. The only ones who saw justification to it and tried to defend the barbaric and heartless killing of humans are the Xenophobes themselves; and that cut across all classes of that nation, starting from the Presidency. Their actions and inactions over the past few days have not really given them out as a country that is sober, but rather as a people who believe in the correctness of their actions; this also cut across all classes. The Government. The citizens. This is not to say all South Africans are Xenophobes. There are still a few who are still logical and human.
I watched on Twitter a short video where the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, was trying to defend his country by saying South Africans attacked only Nigerians with criminal traits, especially drug-related cases. This begs the question; is that what The Law says to do in South Africa in cases like that? Should a President even dare to defend such an action? He definitely would; those killed are Nigerians. The Nigerian government would do nothing about it! And true to self, they did nothing: at least, not immediately. It took hours before an official stance could be made with a press release by one of the President’s media aides.
One would have expected a Presidential President to jump on air the very next minute, assure the citizens of the country who’d naturally be worried because they have families and friends abroad or even naturally pissed seeing the brutal way humans and at the nearest, their compatriots were being killed that all is well and that government would take actions against the South African government, and by extension the citizens of South Africa based in Nigeria; reminding them that properties and businesses ‘owned’ by South Africans are actually housed by Nigerians and in Nigeria. That singular action, which would have been televized on major news channels would have stopped the attacks on businesses supposedly owned by South Africans, leaving sore tastes in the mouths of thousands of Nigerians in the process.
I was told about when General Sani Abacha was military Head of State and for reasons best known to them, The UK banned the Nigerian national airline from its airspace. Abacha was said to have reciprocated the act and banned The UK’s almost on the spot he heard it. The UK felt it and relaxed theirs; Abacha refused to suspend the order not to allow them anywhere near Nigeria’s airspace until some negotiations were made. Obasanjo would have spitted fire. Even the supposedly ‘dull’ President Jonathan deported South Africans to protest Jacob Zuma’s deportation of some Nigerians.
Those were times we had a President. Now, we have a ceremonial figure head cum ruler who doesn’t know he’s drifting from the core values that made the masses vote him into power. President Buhari’s major undoing is surrounding himself with praise-singers who see nothing wrong with any of his decisions as long as it secures ‘the bag’ for them and the usual cowardice of arresting every dissenting voice. Leaders and rulers aren’t the same. We voted a leader in Buhari; he’s shown us he’s still a ruler and gladly wears his khaki under his babanriga.
Was he to show he was a soldier when the heat was on and given stern warnings and reeled out consequences and the readiness of Nigerian state to declare a full blown war with South Africa if the South African government doesn’t find a way to end the attacks on Nigerians, he would have been applauded by Nigerians who needed to know their leader also felt their pains and would have sent a message to other nations that we wouldn’t allow any harm come the way of Nigerians, no matter where they are, legally, in the world. That definitely would have prevented the action from continuing the following day and even yesterday. Nigerians, both in South Africa and Nigeria, lost their lives. They lost their properties. They lost their sources of income and livelihood.
Nigerians have to stand up and begin to ask questions from government at all tiers and arms. Until we get to a point where we are willing to sacrifice the temporal comfort these recycling politicians give us and begin to hold them accountable for every of their actions and inactions, Nigeria wouldn’t move forward. Nigeria’s corruption rating has been on the increase under the supposedly incorruptible Buhari-led Federal Government. Abba Kyari is His Chief of Staff; he has a 500M naira bribe case. Governor Ganduje of Kano State got a Presidential electioneering launch for his second term; he was videotaped taking bribe. I can talk about Timipre Silva and about Godswill Akpabio.
We demand a true President. We demand President Muhammadu Buhari ups his game and gets into real governance, jettisoning the usual blame-game type of government he ran in his first term. He’s getting old and should lay a legacy that generations unborn will hear of and reverence him. He should be reminded: great leaders make history. Bad leaders also do. Whatever side he chooses to be, we are waiting to see his reaction to the attack on Nigerians yesterday in South Africa. Nigerians need their leader!
Aroso Akintomide Adedamola,
Office of The Citizen,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.