Leaders who allow xenophobic attacks not fit to lead – Obasanjo
Obasanjo, who said this during an interview on Liberty Radio, Kaduna on Saturday, chided South African leaders for allowing attacks on other African citizens to continue unabated.
The interview was monitored by one of our correspondents.
He noted that if other African leaders should encourage attacks especially against South Africans, it would be calamitous for them (South Africans) and the entire continent.
The former President argued that it was unacceptable for the South African leaders to watch while their youths attack fellow Africans.
According to Obasanjo, any leader who allows xenophobic attacks to linger under his watch is not fit to be an African leader.
Obasanjo said, “No African country can attain development in isolation. They must move together as a continent if the desired development is to be achieved.
“What all African countries must remember is that Nigeria fought for the decolonisation of most of the African countries. But, whether anyone remembers what Nigeria did for the decolonisation of African countries or not is not even an issue, the issue is that any African must not be treated as unwanted in any part of Africa.
“Any leader who allows xenophobic attacks to happen and linger under his watch is not fit to be an African leader.
“If youths are behaving childishly, then, what is the leadership doing? It is understandable to see children behaving childishly, but if the leaders also behave childishly, that is a calamity for that country and for Africa.”
On the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, the former President noted that he built a Church and a Mosque in the library because as a leader, he should lead by example.
He condemned a situation where people killed in the name of religion, saying “anyone who kills in the name of religion is an enemy of God.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has expressed the fear that with current happenings in South Africa, more Nigerians may be deported from the country soon.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday.
Dabiri-Erewa said while 97 Nigerians were deported from South Africa last Monday, it was clear that more would still be deported because of the new work permit system introduced in the country.
She explained that the South African Government sometime ago withdrew the voluntary work permit offered African migrant workers.
The presidential aide said the development made the process of granting of work permit more difficult.
She expressed the fear that more Nigerians might be deported as a result of the new development.
“With a massive arbitrary raid of undocumented immigrants in South Africa, there may likely be more deportations,” she said.
When asked the specific steps being taken by the Federal Government to protect Nigerians in South Africa, Dabiri-Erewa said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, would make a categorical statement on the issue at the appropriate time.
She, however, said the Federal Government would not take the protection of Nigerians in any part of the world lightly.
She added, “We want to hold the South African police authorities responsible for their promise. We expect South Africa to charge and prosecute offenders. They should demonstrate enough political will to tackle xenophobia.
“Xenophobia is a disease, and ignorance plays a major role. Education is necessary to tackle it. Nigeria can send teachers to help in this regard if South Africa is ready to pay.
“South African corporate bodies operating in Nigeria should also join in the campaign to educate their compatriots perpetrating xenophobia.”
Meanwhile, the Green Circuit Association Worldwide has condemned the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, describing the attacks especially on Nigerians as senseless and the height of embarrassment to the entire black race.
Addressing journalists at the end of the association’s executive meeting held in Warri, Delta State, on Saturday, the President of the group, Mr. John Martins-Aikpokpo, said the association seriously frowned on the attack, noting that such uncivilised attack was a major setback to the growth and development of the African continent.