The xenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa was the major topic of discourse at the House of Representatives on Thursday.
And with the tone of their contributions, there are indications that the lawmakers may force the Federal Government to take a strong diplomatic stance against the South African Government.
Beside the press statement released by the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, which condemned the incessant xenophobic killings of Nigerians, the Federal Government has failed to take any diplomatic move against South Africa.
It may sound unbelievable but it is true that no fewer than 116 Nigerians have been killed in South Africa in the last two years.
Between January and December 2016 no fewer than 20 Nigerians were murdered, including one Tochukwu Nnadi whom South African Police alleged to have involved in a drug related offence. The policemen strangled him to death.
With the help of hoodlums, the police, investigation revealed that the police also killed one Ikejiaku Chinedu, Monday Okorie, Gideon Ogalaonye, Nnamdi Michael, Adeniyi Olumoko, and Christian Onwukaike because they were Nigerians.
At present there is a renewed extra-judicial killing in Pretoria with Nigerians as the main victims. It was gathered that a mechanic workshop owned by a Nigerian was burnt together with 13 vehicles under repair while a church owned by a Nigerian was equally set ablaze by irate South Africans.
Two weeks ago, Dabiri-Erewa was at the South African Embassy in Nigeria where she met with the country High Commissioner, Lulu Aaron-Mnguni over the xenophobic attack of Nigerians in his country.
Mr. Aaron-Mnguni promised that the South African government was investigating the matter and that necessary steps would be taken to address it.
Dabiri-Erewa also called on African Union to intervene as she described the xenophobic attack as unnecessary and that the South African Government should be wary of its consequence.
While the killings have not subsided, the Nigeria House of Representatives is disturbed by the inaction of the Federal Government as it has directed the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin the process of consular engagement with the South Africa.
The lawmakers were angry that the authorities in South Africa looked the other way while Nigerians were either killed or had their workplaces destroyed by xenophobic South Africans.
In a motion moved by the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Rita Orji, the house resolved to form a delegation, which would include members of the National Assembly and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage authorities in Pretoria over the development.
The ultimate assignment of the delegation is to remind the South African Government the role played by Nigeria during its apartheid era and the consequence of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
The resolution added that, “The House should mandate the Justice Department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to independently investigate the immediate and remote causes of the attacks so as to arrive at acceptable conclusions.
“The delegation should assure Nigerian citizens in South Africa that the Nigerian Government is well positioned to aggressively defend the rights of Nigerians overseas, using the complete choice of obtainable means — from political and economic, to operations under international right of self-defense.”
Recalled that Nigeria championed the liberation struggle to free South Africa from apartheid as it contributed funds to give it independence from the British.
A former Minority Whip of the House, Mr. Mohammed Garba-Dhatti, recalled how Nigerians championed the liberation struggles during the apartheid era in South Africa.
“It is even more painful that today, the South African Government doesn’t do much to protect Nigerians living over there. Nigerians funded the liberation struggles in that country. We were contributing money to liberate them.
“What the government should do is to educate its citizens, particularly the younger generation, on these issues,” Garba-Dhatti added.
The Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Mr. Saheed Fijabi, also condemned the attacks.]
“What happens if Nigerians also start attacking South African business interests in Nigeria? They should stop what they are doing,” he stated.
On his part, the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “wake up” to its responsibilities.
“They should let South Africa know that Nigeria has options. The issue of resorting to attacks is not a right of a particular country.
“But, we must act fast before we will be unable to contain the patience of Nigerians,” Ogor added.