By Fortune Abang
Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA), is optimistic that the meeting between Nigerian and South African Presidents in October, will bring lasting solutions to the recurrent xenophobia.
The President of NICASA, Mr Ben Okoli, made this known in a telephone conversation with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Okoli said President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, were expected to meet in October to discuss modalities to address attacks on Nigerians living in that country.
“We are looking forward to the state visit by President Buhari and we believe his coming will help reduce the suffering Nigerians go through in South Africa.
“We will use the opportunity to lay our complaints to the president and highlight security of lives and properties of our members, as the area of concern that we want addressed.
“We will also be able to get assurance from our host country’s president towards securing lives and properties of Nigerians here.
“We hope the visit will comfort Nigerians here, because we expect our plight to be tabled before the host government, so they can provide adequate protection to ensure Nigerians feel safe,” he said.
He lamented the high handedness of Police operatives in South Africa on matters that concerned Nigerians, saying issues like brutality and killings should be brought to the fore at the meeting.
“We will list all potentials that could bring about economic benefits and growth to Nigerians through the anticipated state visit,” he said.
He said that Nigerians ha, without any fear of contradiction, contributed immensely to the growth of the South African economy.
“We urge the South African Government to ensure that the attacks do not reoccur. We appeal to them to device alternative strategies since previous efforts to stop xenophobia have not worked.
“We believe xenophobia can be stopped and therefore appeal to the South African government to provide succour to foreigners who have lost their source of livelihood, especially Nigerians.
He commended the Nigerian Consulate General to South Africa, Godwin Adama, for the pro-active steps he had so far taken to douse tension via the media in that country.
“The mission’s gate has never been shut against Nigerians; it has always kept its door open.
“What happened is that after the crisis in Pretoria where South African’s destroyed Nigerian businesses and property, those whose property were destroyed went to the mission out of frustration and anger.
“I understand the situation; it is not easy for somebody to lose his property and just be watching; but the mission gate was not shut against them,” he said.
He said they were invite in and received by an official of the consulate who went as far as organising food and drinks for them to make sure that they are comfortable.
“So they were attended to and nobody would say that the gate was shut against them.
“The mission allowed them in even though they came in by force and destroyed part of the entrance.
“They were encouraged to go and calculate their losses and bring back the report through the organisation. So, we are actually collaborating with people who have lost their property.
“We are taking inventory of what our people lost, which I will make available to the high commissioner in due time,” Okoli said.