National Chairman of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised the federal government to take steps to nationalise all South African companies operating in Nigeria to protest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
Oshiomhole, who gave the advice on Thursday at a press briefing in Abuja, also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to cut off all diplomatic ties between the two countries.
He advised Mr Buhari to bar South African Airways from flying to any part of the country to protest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and implored all Nigerians to stop patronising South African businesses in Nigeria in order to show concerns to the killings of Nigerians.
South African businesses which Oshiomhole mentioned included the telecommunications giant, MTN; Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC and Multi-Choice, owner of DSTV and GoTv.
“The best way to deal with these issues, I think right away, Nigerians in our individual capacity, this is the time to show commitment to our citizens and show sympathy to those our loved ones by boycotting South African goods and businesses. Beginning with Nigerians refusing, from today, to use MTN services.
“Happily, we have indigenous network like GLO, Airtel and I believe 9mobile is still standby. If Nigerians desert, at least for the next 30 days, as a first step to stop using MTN, it would have sent a clear message and pay befitting tribute to the lives of those that have been wasted in a very crude and barbaric manner by South African authority,” he said.
Oshiomhole flayed the statement credited to the National Youth Leader of the ruling party in South Africa, African National Congress (ANC), Mr Julius Malema.
The former labour leader said the statement showed that the South African government was behind the crimes being committed against Nigerians.
He appealed to Nigerians to strictly respect the party’s call by desisting from patronising South Africa’s businesses rather than protesting on the streets which he said could harm fellow Nigerians.
Oshiomhole said, “We have discussed the attacks on foreigners in South Africa, particularly blacks who are predominantly Nigerians. Having listened to all the explanations from the authority in South Africa, we have come to the conclusion that these people are not being accused of being illegal immigrants nor are they involved in any illegal activities.
“Those who have business permits to set up businesses, whatever business they are involved in, they are operating within the letters of the law. Over the last one year, virtually every week, Nigerians are being wasted in one part of south Africa or the other.
“We know that the government has had conversation with the South African authority, drawing their attention to these and other abuses that Nigerians have been subjected to. But the escalation of the attack on foreigners which include Nigerians has reached a level that is no longer tolerable.
“At one time, people wonder whether these attacks have the backing of the south African government. What has been clear over the period is that the South African authority has not demonstrated sufficient commitment to bring these attacks to an end.
“In spite of the fact that the lives of many people have been wasted, not one South African is known to have been convicted and sentence to prison for their role on the attack on foreigners, killing them and looting their businesses.
He added, “It is not a secret any longer that Nigeria contributed over 60 billion dollars to the struggle against apartheid. You will recall that even Nigerian students contributed their allowances to the struggle.
“However, what we find completely unacceptable is that where as South Africans have continued to benefit from Nigeria and repatriating billions of dollars to South Africa, the South African authorities appeared envious of the menial jobs and petty trading activities of Nigerians.
“Having reviewed all these, NWC commends Buhari for the leadership in boycotting the World Economic Forum in South Africa. That was a decision well taken and some other African countries have taken similar position.
“We cannot be talking about African economic integration at a time when the world is talking about the role of small scale businesses and those involved in the small scale businesses in South Africa are having their economy destroyed and sometimes, their lives lost.
“What is the essence of having a pan African trade arrangement if African government cannot protect Africans that are doing legitimate businesses in their country.
“However, we believe that we need to make some bold statements to leave South Africa in no doubt that there is no time to lose if Nigerian must protect our own interest when South Africa is protecting their own interest by preserving economic opportunities only for South Africans.
“We have come to an era when Nigeria can no longer talk of Africa as the centre piece of our foreign policy. It must be Nigeria first, Nigeria second, Nigeria third and thereafter, anything that is consistent with Nigeria national interest.
“We should no longer sacrifice our own national interest just because we want to be a big brother of a people who does not recognise the role and huge sacrifices that our country has made over the years to defend and protect the interest of the African continent.
“For example, MTN is making huge profit including sometimes, breaching our national laws. South Africans cannot be envious of small businesses over there while their business giants are smiling to their foreign banks where they keep profits that they repatriate from Nigeria.
“We are aware that not too long ago, MTN was enlisted in the stock exchange and some Nigerians have bought shares from MTN. I think that in moments like this and to send strong message to the South African authority and their people, it is worth it for the Nigerian government to take over the remaining shares of MTN that are owned by South African so that MTN become fully Nigerian own.
“While government think of how to deal with this, I think that in our individual capacities, this is the moment to show our commitment to our fellow citizens and show sympathy to those who have lost loved ones by boycotting South African goods and services, beginning with Nigerians refusing to use MTN services.
“This should also give us opportunity to reflect on why we should continue to allow DSTV to continue to repatriate millions of dollars to South Africa every year arising from their activities in Nigeria. We have to review all those things that give South African companies monopoly such that they make so much money with little value addition.
“To show that we mean business and as a practical step of discouraging more Nigerians from going to South Africa and encouraging those already there to return home, we should know that it will be an appropriate message to the South African government that until they find appropriate satisfactory explanation and pay appropriate compensation to those Nigerians whose property has been looted and those killed; South African Airways should be stopped from landing in Nigeria.
“Nigeria needs to show that we are not chickens to be molested because the life of every Nigerian matters and need to be protected whether at home or abroad.
“Among businesses that South Africans are involved in, many Nigerians believe that Shoprite is owned by South Africans. They are repatriating money purely based on franchise. As we know, both the capital with which those shops are built belong to Nigerians and the shop owners are Nigerians.
“But these guys make profit just with the franchise. I believe that this moment imposes obligation on government to review any of the agreement to enable any South African to begin to develop monopoly in our commercial life.
“We also know that Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic Bank are South African Banks, with Nigerians having little shares. It is time to ask them to wind up so that Nigerian banks can take advantage of their departure to expand their operation and maximise their profits and Nigerian government makes legitimate tax from the profit generated by these bank.
“I believe that taking these and other measures which the government will be able to do without wasting much time, we would have enough to save by transferring these businesses to Nigerians and use the profit to rehabilitate those Nigerians whose property has been lost and attempt to provide some succour to those who have lost loved ones.
“Obviously, the situation in South Africa require bold imaginative and direct message that we are willing and ready to match the South African government lukewarm attitude to this attack as if our lives are not important.”