President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, October 4, said that he was shocked over the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa describing the attacks of foreign nationals by locals in the country as an embarrassment to the African continent.
The president stated this in Pretoria, during his 3-day visit to South Africa, when he met with Nigerians living in South Africa.
He advised them to invest their skills, resources and talents in their country and work towards living decent and dignified lives that bring honour to their fatherland.
President Buhari had left Nigeria for South Africa on Wednesday, October 2, immediately after presiding over the weekly Federal Executive Council(FEC) meeting to meet his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and to have a bilateral discussion with him.
According to him, “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.”
President Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, made known to the gathering, which included students, traders, medical doctors, clerics and academics, that an agency had been established by the Federal Government, headed by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, to guide them on how to actualize their contributions to the country.
Speaking on the continued xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, he said, “ The recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa.
“It was an embarrassment to the continent. 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 went on to commiserate with those who were suffering injuries of various degrees, praying for their speedy recovery, and sympathized with those who lost property and other valuables.
“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 five hundred 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.
He also gave a 100% assurance to Nigerians that the South African authorities had tendered their apologies over the attacks and resolved to take urgent and effective steps to stop the ugly trend.
“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,’’ the President said.
Members of the Nigerian community in South Africa thanked the President for the visit, assuring him that they will be more careful in their dealings within the country, and work towards harmony at all times.