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We lose citizens to xenophobia, police ‘kill’ Shoprite protester, has South Africa cursed us?

By Fredrick Nwabufo

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Reports say a Nigerian, who had gone to lodge a protest against the dispatch of his fellow countrymen by a ravening, xenophobic bloodhound in South Africa at Shoprite, Lekki, Lagos, ended up becoming a victim of the untamed violence of Nigeria’s security agents.

Tragic! How can the lives of citizens matter abroad, when they are killed unchecked in the country?

Really, I do not know how to feel about this. Since the importunate attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, I have not read or seen it anywhere that the country’s security agents killed any arsonist, aggressor or slasher.

In fact, in 2017, Bongai Mkongi, South Africa’s deputy minister of police, excused the killing of foreign nationals in his country. According to him, his people are fighting for their entitlements.

“You will not find South Africans in other countries dominating a city up to 80 percent. We cannot surrender South Africa to foreign nationals,’’ he said.

That was a South African security chief.

Also, in 2018, during his campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa, South African president, vocalised the deep but obvious xenophobic intentions of his administration. He declared unbridled that foreign nationals would be hounded and their businesses shut down ‘’no matter where they come from’’. His statement sent the hordes of xenophobes into action as shops of non-citizens were raided that day.

As a matter of fact, the killing of foreign nationals, particularly Nigerians in South Africa, appears to be sanctioned by the state. Why are the assailants, arsonists and criminals not being prosecuted?

It is common knowledge that the prevailing thought in that country is that foreign nationals are taking their jobs, annexing their land and winning their women over. This is a country where 80 percent of land is owned by the whites just as they do the commanding heights of the economy.

But really, how are foreign nationals ‘’couping’’ South African cities economically? A country with a population of about 1.5 million Africans from other countries, who are mostly retail traders, artisans and labourers?

I think, the South African problem is symptomatic of a lack of education and the residency of bigotry and low self-esteem. The natives would rather blame their troubles on other people who look like them than confront the real issues.

However, I believe the Nigerian government does not get it. It should cease the spasmodic whining, “we helped South Africa fight apartheid”, if it cannot take a definitive action against a country that has enabled the killing and economic impoverishment of its citizens.

That Nigeria helped South Africa emerge from oppression means nothing to the average South African. In fact, what some of them are saying derisorily — on social media — is “while you were helping us fight apartheid what were you doing developing your own country?”

After the rabble-rousing by Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, what has the country done in 24 hours of reports of the attacks beyond diplomatic niceties?

The Nigerian is an orphan. South Africans attack Nigerians, dismissing Nigeria’s sacrifice in the past; Ghanaians attack and humiliate Nigerians despite Nigeria’s expansiveness towards their country; Cameroonians violate Nigerians, and some other Africans give us the same raw deal.

But how does Nigeria respond to all these violations against its citizens? We persist in acting the “big brother”, which I believe comes from a place of weakness, insecurity and helplessness.

Nigeria acting the “big brother” in these instances is to conceal its impotence. What option does it have? How can it command the respect of its neighbours when the leadership has failed to deliver good governance to its citizens? When the country is the poverty capital of the world and when development is below basic level?

The fact is, no country will respect another country, whose citizens are killed, stripped of dignity and material possession in its territory, and there is no definitive response from the assaulted nation.

What is happening in South Africa should be a lesson to us on matters of foreign relations if we will learn. Reciprocity underpins international relations today.

Enough of the foolery. Nigeria first.

Who do ‘Magu boys’ work for, EFCC or an emperor?

A scathing detraction to professionalism in Nigeria is the customisation of public offices. Institutions are built around personalities rather than on principles and service.

The corrugation of Nigeria’s public offices and institutions has a long history. But of significance is the brazen privatisation and deployment of public office to insular ends by Michael Aondooakaa, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) under Umaru Musa Yar’adua, in 2009.

Aondooakaa was AGF and in the same breath, counsel to George Akume, then Benue state governor, who was being investigated by the EFCC for alleged corruption to the tune of N2 billion.

Being Nigeria’s chief law officer, Aondooakaa, who naturally should have recused himself from the case, went to work undermining and frustrating the EFCC. In fact, prior to his appointment he had filed a suit at the supreme court seeking the dissolution of the anti-graft agency. And he refused to withdraw this case or his representation in the matter even after his appointment until the apex court dismissed it.

That was the standard-bearer of Nigeria’s law begriming the constitution. Earlier, in 2007, he attempted to retard the arrest of James Ibori in the UK – an action which led to a diplomatic scuffle with the country. Nuhu Ribadu’s unbending stance in this case, led to his mortifying discharge weeks after.

There are analogous cases in the Buhari administration – one of which is the ‘’cleansing and empowerment’’ of Abulrasheed Maina, former pension chief, who was declared wanted by the EFCC for corruption, by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation.

I believe the office of attorney-general of the federation has been one of the most abused of all offices in the country.

In the same vein, the tagging of top staff of the EFCC as ‘Magu boys’ by the agency accents the execrable customisation of public office in the country. It is the reason the institutions function with human frailties; that is, if the head of an institution is incompetent or corrupt, the entire body necrotises.

This is the lamentable piece of hagiography the agency footnoted in a photo on social media.

“#Photo Magu Boys, led by EFCC’s Lagos Head of Operations, Mohammed Rabo, on the move as they continue to tame the corruption monster from the Lagos axis of the battlefield. With the acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, giving orders and directing affairs, the war is winnable.”

The reluctance of public officers to distinguish themselves from their offices is the reason abuse of office is rife here. There is Ibrahim Magu and there is the EFCC. Two separate entities. Personal foibles and interest must be detached from public office.

If Magu leaves as EFCC chairman, will those agents still be ‘Magu boys’? Will they be working for him or the agency? Whose interest are they serving, Magu or Nigerians? And do they work for Magu or for Nigerians?

It is a downing reality how individuals expropriate public offices, design them in their own image and build a temple in them for everyone to worship.

A few days ago, after the inauguration of ministers, a herd of staff members of the ministry of finance abandoned duty and stayed out in the rain to welcome Zainab Ahmed. They formed a doughnut around the minister and chanted, ‘’mama oyoyo’’ as she sauntered into the premises with an insufferable gait. She soaked in all the praise and sycophancy.

But did the minister not realise that it was wrong of them, the jamboree being during work hours? And is there no regard for professionalism?

Also, the privatisation of institutions like the police and the DSS, which are sometimes deployed in witch-hunt, is the reason their performance is underwhelming. Until public institutions truly become public; they cannot serve Nigerians.

@FredrickNwabufo

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