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Lai Mohammed is right

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[FILES] Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

The killings and looting in South Africa are horrifying; they are blood-chilling. I saw the video of a man, presumably a Nigerian set on fire. Shops are looted and one can see young men and women gleefully carting away goods and the police watched them committing this heinous crime. It was evil. The evil of the worst kind. And I saw a South African deputy minister of police justifying this barbarism and callousness.

The pronouncement of President Cyril Ramaphosa is uninspiring. Nigerians are right to feel let down. The outpouring of grief and disgust is understandable. The outrage is expected.

However, evil is evil anywhere, whether in South Africa or Nigeria. We cannot repay evil in South Africa with evil by we Nigerians. We must rise higher than the ruffians in South Africa. And this is why Lai Mohammed’s intervention is timely and salutary. He has done well.

The Information Minister’s salient point that should not be lost on us, horrified as we are, is that destroying enterprises in which South Africans have interests in Nigeria would amount to shooting ourselves in the foot; it would hurt Nigeria and Nigerians more. These enterprises are owned largely by Nigerians who obtained franchise to run them. Take MTN as an example. It has just gone public and is now listed on the stock exchange. By becoming a PLC, the floodgate is opened to Nigerians to buy its shares thus spreading ownership to more Nigerian owners.

Until recently Pascal Dozie was chairman. He has yielded the position to another Nigerian, the former Communication Commission Vice-Chairman. He is Ernest Ndukwe. The chairman of MTN Foundation is the renowned pharmacist Julius Ademuluyi Adelusi. He succeeded Ambassador Hamzart Ahmadu. Thousands are employed by MTN throughout the country. These will be added to the bourgeoning unemployment queues in the land if the giant enterprise is shut down. When the company eventually reopens, it is not likely to be able to reabsorb all of them in one go. The properties housing the offices belong to Nigerians.

Shoprite has Nigerians as suppliers of its goods and services. On their database are about 50,000 Nigerians who also have factories dedicated to supplying Shoprite its goods. To destroy Shoprite is to cut off the means of livelihood of several thousand Nigerians. Many of these employees and suppliers may never have been to South Africa.

There is no wrong no matter however inconsequential that will not be atoned for in the outworking of the self-acting mechanisms of God. That should be our consolation.


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