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Open letter to the editor of Nigeria Standard

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Journalism is a tough job. And journalists are under a lot of pressure to churn out news stories. Features stories however are not like news stories. News stories must be sent on the go without latitude for the opinions of the reporter. Features work best when views of people are quoted amply. And the sender may weave his own tapestry but such tapestry does not credit the views of one person to another. I was happy to see my views on your news media, The Nigeria Standard published September 16, 2019 with your title Xenophobic attacks: between truth and fallacy. My views which you were gracious enough to include in your feature story were published in The Guardian of September 05, 2019 with the title Xenophobic attacks: Fillet but no fish in South Africa. You quoted me thus: However, in his reaction to the reprisal attacks on South African businesses, Mr. Simon Abah, an Abuja based public commentator stated that, “the reaction emanating from Nigeria is understandable. No one should tolerate malevolence. But when some people begin to say that South Africans do not have monopoly of violence, and that Nigerians should promote a culture of reciprocity, a tit-for-tat, then I have to ask, what value are we trying to propagate with this stance?

According to Abah “There is difference between policy of state and the policy of hoodlums which government overtime has not been able to use the bully pulpit to rein in. What happens in South Africa is very condemnable but is not a policy of the South African government but thugs, poverty stricken South Africans, probably with no capacity for anything, just envious of Nigerians doing well in South Africa. If they could descend so low forgetting about humanity, then why should we, as Nigerians also descend so? According to Simon Abah, “it behoves on the South African government to take care of their citizens who are forever jealous of Nigerians. Xenophobic attacks have happened elsewhere but governments reined in miscreants that started troubles against foreigners and why not South Africa. “The South African government has not lived up to its billing to nip these frequent attacks in the bud Abah further said.  “It is not the job of the High Commissioner in South Africa to do so, it is not the job of a diplomat on ground in a foreign land to legislate against prejudice which man cannot stop, Abbah added. “The ANC has failed the people of South Africa. The man in the hinterland and many cities live in the slums and the economy is still in the hands of the white people. “The concept of integrated pluralism has not worked in South Africa. The chief reason is that the South African lacks the capacity to learn the trade of the white man but is envious of the Blackman who only buys and sells quipped Simon Abah. But you credited my views published in The Guardian to the following persons: Does buying and selling develop any country on earth? Such was the question answered by Mr. Reuben Kolawole, a businessman who spoke with the Sunday Standard in Jos. He noted that, “buyers and sellers are always at the mercy of manufacturers who can shut them out of business at a moment’s notice. (These views of mine published in The Guardian and shouldn’t have been credited to Mr. Reuben Kolawole.) “I was shocked to hear a Nigerian on TV say that Nigerians are messing up most countries. We need to appreciate each other as Africans, and government must also inspire pride in Nigeria and create the right environment for Nigerians to thrive back home instead of seeking gold which is not available on the streets of any foreign country”. (These views of mine published in The Guardian and shouldn’t have been credited to Mr. Reuben Kolawole.) Also lamenting to the Sunday Standard, Joshua Akims, a student of Business Administration also wondered, “How many North Africans do you see in Nigeria? If they must travel, it is for short term business and education (These views of mine published in The Guardian and shouldn’t have been credited to Joshua Akims.) But Nigerians are all over the place even in poverty stricken countries you will still trace Nigerians there.

“Perhaps it is the failure of leadership that has bedeviled our country over the years especially with the absence of jobs and other infrastructure that could even encourage young entrepreneurs to depend on the country for socio-economic progress.” Aminu Jibrin also told the Sunday Standard that instead of Nigerians blaming the South Africans, “Nigeria should rather increase its international diplomacy and not sorties for its sake, but engage in value driven, branding exercises and move away from the tit-for-tat.” (These views of mine published in The Guardian and shouldn’t have been credited to Aminu Jibrin.)

“If in the 16th century era, leaders were aware of the dangers of not allowing xenophobia to fester why is South Africa a rallying point for xenophobia in Africa?” Jibrin wondered. (This was my concluding question published in the said Guardian article and shouldn’t have been credited to Aminu Jibrin and Aminu Jibrin couldn’t have wondered.) The editor of Nigeria Standard, shouldn’t take this conduct beyond this level. I await your prompt response.

Abah, a teacher, speaker, campaigner, consultant, wrote from Abuja.


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