Buhari returns, tells Nigerians in South Africa not to forget home
• Says Xenophobic attacks on Africans is an embarrassment to the continent
President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Abuja yesterday evening after a three-day official visit to South Africa.
While there, the President advised Nigerians in the Diaspora to always remember their country with skills, resources, and talents and work towards living decent and dignified lives that bring honour to their fatherland.
The President said he was shocked at the outbreak of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa, describing such as an embarrassment to the continent, adding: “Let me again use this medium to condole with the families of all those who lost their lives over the years in such tragic incidents. May their souls rest in peace.”
He also commiserated with those who were injured, while praying for their quick recovery, just as he sympathised with those that lost property and other valuables.
Buhari on Wednesday travelled on a three-day state visit to South Africa to meet with his counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in order to explore areas aimed at resolving the crisis and other bilateral talks that will cement the relationship between the two countries.
His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said in a statement in Abuja that Buhari, while speaking at a town hall meeting with Nigerians in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday, charged them to be diligent, focused and resourceful in all their engagements, especially in improving their net-worth through learning new skills, good education and building their networks positively.
The President said: “As a government, we are quite disturbed by these very unfortunate events and have taken actions and measures to address this issue and prevent their re-occurrence with the South African government.
“I had earlier directed the evacuation of Nigerians who do not feel safe to remain here. Over 500 have returned home and are being reintegrated into their communities.
“At this juncture, I wish to express my profound gratitude to Chief Allen Onyeama, the Chairman of Air Peace Airlines, who showed compassion and patriotism by immediately offering to evacuate our Nigerian brothers and sisters who had been affected by these xenophobic attacks,” he said.
Buhari assured Nigerians that the South African authorities had expressed their apologies over the incidents and have resolved to take actions to stem the untoward development, saying: “We have just inaugurated the Nigeria/South Africa Bi-National Commission at the level of Heads of State with a firm determination to further bring our two countries together in a mutually beneficial partnership. Let us, therefore, give peace a chance and pray we have seen the last of this ugly violence.”
He also called on all Nigerians to be law-abiding and respect constituted authorities of other countries, urging “the few that sometimes gives us a bad name, to desist from such misdemeanours and be our good ambassadors.”
He stated: “First, you are our Ambassadors and the face of our country to the world wherever you are. The world is, therefore, watching you and would make judgments on Nigeria based on your comportment and actions.
“Second, in whatever legitimate engagement you find yourself, you must strive to excel and be the best.
“Third, while you are out in the Diaspora, do not forget home. You represent some of the best human assets that Nigeria has. With your education and exposure to the world, you are at the cutting edge of technology.
“I, therefore, urge you to use your resources, skills, and talents to help the development of Nigeria.'”
Buhari told the gathering, which included students, traders, medical doctors, clerics, and academics, that an agency has been established by the Federal Government, headed by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, to guide them on how to actualise their contributions to the country.
In his remark, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, commended the President for the maturity and diplomatic tact he used in resolving the challenge with the South African government, noting that government had put in place a mechanism to ensure that the unfortunate incidents were never repeated again.
Members of the Nigerian community thanked the President for the visit, assuring him that they would be more careful in their dealings within the country, and work towards harmony at all times.
The leaders of various communities in South Africa, led by Ben Okoli, commended Chief Onyeama, for his quick intervention, and the historic roles the Nigerian High Commissioner, Ambassador Kabir Bala, and Consul General, Mr. Godwin Adama, played in protecting and providing for citizens.