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XENOPHOBIA: Get ready to go back to South Africa, Obasanjo tells Nigerian returnees

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Nigerians who were evacuated from South Africa, following xenophobic attacks, have been asked to get ready to return to that country Rainbow Nation.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo gave the advice, and said he was sure that the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, coming in October would yield a positive outcome.

He said the two presidents when they meet should be ready to make the right statements that would encourage the Nigerians who returned home to go back to South Africa.

The former leader stated this on Saturday in his Abeokuta residence when asked by reporters to share what he discussed with Ramaphosa during his visit to South Africa last week.

Obasanjo explained that Ramaphosa told him that he and Buhari would discuss how xenophobic attacks on Nigerians could be stopped.

“I took the opportunity of being in South Africa to actually pay a courtesy call on President Cyril Ramaphosa and he quickly granted me the opportunity. One of the major things we discussed was this issue of xenophobia or Afrophobia.

“The President told me that there was so much at stake and whatever mistake we had made, we had to correct it. And I think that was a very good statement and I know that he meant it, because he immediately said ‘what can we do or should we do?” Obasanjo said.

For the South African citizens, he advised them to tread softly on the issue of foreigners seeking opportunities in their country.

“The idea of thinking or saying that foreigners are taking your jobs should be killed because most of these foreigners paid something into the country.

“I met more than two Nigerians who are doing legitimate businesses and the turnover runs into millions of dollars and they employed 50 to 60 South Africans.

“All these must be expressed and must be shown that Nigerians in South Africa are not drug peddlers and criminals; there are many of them that are genuine businessmen and professionals and who are making meaningful contributions to the economy and the social life of that country.

“I think that is all we must be doing and be saying and my joy is that President Cyril Ramaphosa is ready to do what needs to be done to stop these incidents and to put the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa on the right track.

“One of the things they are going to do between South Africa and Nigeria is that they are going to have what we established during my tenure – that we called bilateral commission,” he said.

The speaking on Nigerians evacuated from South Africa, the former president said, “I hope they will go back to South Africa from what I heard from President Ramaphosa. Like I said, the meeting that President Buhari and President Ramaphosa will have during the first week of October should smooth the ground. And the right statements and the right action coming from both sides should encourage our people to go back.

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“But, as I have always said that Nigerians living outside Nigeria must try to be good citizens of wherever they live.

“I believe the President of South Africa did the right thing to quickly send emissaries to apologise to the countries that were affected (xenophobic attacks), countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique and I think this was good.”

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