The Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed his displeasure on the xenophobic attacks against Africans especially Nigerians in South Africa. He said repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa was not the permanent solution to the crisis.
In a letter to the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, which was made available to newsmen by his Special Assistant Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo explained that repatriation was palliative and could not erase the pain in the heart of the returnees.
Obasanjo said,“Neither is revenge a desirable solution. Mutual understanding and acknowledgement of what needs to be done on all sides are imperative and getting down to doing them is the solution that will serve Nigeria and South Africa and indeed Africa well, particularly in this era of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area opportunities.”
Obasanjo also emphasised the need for countries to have a programme that would provide livelihoods for their teeming youths to discourage them from embarking on hazardous journeys.
The former president further said that the failure of the South African leaders to issue a strong condemnation on the attacks showed that the government was encouraging and was an accomplice in them.
He maintained that Africans living in other Africa countries should enjoy the same constitutional rights with the citizens of such countries.
He added, “I dare say, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country, it is a great disservice not only to the country where xenophobia takes place and the countries of the victims concerned, but also a great disservice to the whole of Africa and black race.”
Obasanjo urged countries, whose citizens were affected to table appropriate motions at the African Union and consider other measures if the situation was allowed to continue.
He added, “There is a need for fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia and afrophobia in South Africa.
“As a suggestion, South Africa should send emissaries to the countries concerned to explain, apologise and agree on the way forward for mutual understanding, accommodation, reconciliation, and binding the wound to promote unity, concord, and brotherhood in Africa.”