Now that South Africa has apologised... - Bola Bolawole

Now South Africa has apologised for the xenophobic attacks that saw to the death of many African compatriots in the hands of South African mobs, have we seen the end of a sad chapter in the history of Black Africa? Nigeria was one of many African countries caught in the xenophobic web that the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, sent special envoys to apologise for earlier in the week as well as give assurances that all is now well – or, more appropriately – that all will be well. Can we take his assurances for it? Cyril himself was a fire-eating Labour leader in the last days of the armed struggle against apartheid; so he should know the mentality of his people. A facade of hope that normalcy has, indeed, returned to SA was the fledgling anti-xenophobic movement in SA itself where “wives” of victims of xenophobic attacks were summoning up courage to come out of their cocoons to decry their own losses. A few other conscionable South Africans have joined in their rank. Will these be enough to stem the tide? Is the SA Government sincere with its apology and can it do the needful? Are the xenophobes now tired, remorseful, been won over by superior argument or they are simply on recess, waiting for the next opportune occasion to strike? Time, as they say, will tell!

As the repatriation of the endangered Nigerians proceeds apace, it is safe to conclude that only a few will venture to return. Many will stay put, the dangers to their life and livelihood notwithstanding, while others will relocate to other countries. The reasons for this are not far to fetch: The situations and circumstances that ran them out of their fatherland have not abated; instead, they have become more pronounced in the last four years of the APC/President Muhammadu Buhari administration. While APC leaders have been creating millions of jobs by words of the mouth, the real unemployment situation has gone from bad to worse. Not only are new jobs not being created as claimed by government, those in employment are losing their jobs at an alarming rate. Absence of jobs, especially among the youth, has led to high rate of criminality, such that government now begs criminals to sheathe their sward, having lost the moral right, the wherewithal as well as the will power to fight crimes. Nigerians leave the shores of this country in droves in search of better living conditions. “Better life”, which was nothing to write home about before, has deteriorated progressively since 2015. Inflation and devaluation have robbed the Naira of close to half of its purchasing power, if not more. Education, health, power supply, and infrastructure have decayed beyond acceptable levels. Corruption today is more mind-boggling than in times past; if in doubt, compare what Buhari spends as fuel subsidy with what Jonathan spent.

To make matters worse, the state of insecurity today – with Fulani herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers, ritualists and cultists rivalling Boko Haram – have left Nigeria worse than Buhari/APC had met it. Recent reports said 60 doctors leave Lagos hospitals every six months (10/month) while 700 (appro. 61/monthly) doctors dump Nigeria annually. The Yoruba would say “Orisa boo le gba mi, fi mi s’ile boo se ba mi” If you can’t help, don’t make matters worse for me! Not so Buhari/APC!

South African returnees would therefore be returning to a Nigeria worse than the one they left behind. For those who left when PDP/Goodluck Jonathan was in power, they will have the added pains and humiliation of “Operation Crocodile Smile” to contend with. The war of attrition between APC/Buhari and their allies on the one hand and pro-Biafra forces on the other is yet to abate. Ask Ekweremadu! Ask South-east governors! Few South-easterners, who form the bulk of the South Africa returnees, are proud of Buhari: The president’s bare-faced sectionalism, tribalism and nepotism have not helped matters! Expect a visibly embarrassed South Africa to put obstacles in the way of repatriation to try and squeeze the returnees, make their return difficult if not impossible as well as buy time while mending fences. Only reason why SA pretends to be remorseful is because it risks isolation. It is doubtful whether Nigeria has made adequate preparation for the returnees. For those returning with empty hands, how do they start life afresh? Shame and fear of disgrace is another reason why some will be unwilling to return. “Iku ya j’esin”, our people will say. Better die than suffer ignominy! The politics of the repatriation, though, is not as much as doing a good job as giving an impression something was done. It is less of substance but more of appearance.                   

FUOYE: Two deaths too many

What is beyond dispute now is that two students of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE) died during a peaceful protest that went awry last week. Except for those who still have the milk of human kindness running in their veins in a Nigeria that had since lost all sensibilities and feelings but now has scant regard for human life, this is mere statistics – “only” two lives lost! Yes, “only” two! Since the advent of APC/Buhari, our attitude to living and dying has become cavalierly. But consider that one of the “only two” were your own son – let our men and women of power consider that “just one”, not the entire “only two” of the FUOYE dead were their own son or daughter! If you do not appreciate what belongs to others, someone is coming who will not appreciate what belongs to you. If you pay scant regard to the life of the other person, someone is coming who will pay scant regard to your own life or the life of someone you hold so dear. That is the Law of Karma and the import of Prophet Nathan’s message to King David after he had killed “good man” Uriah and appropriated his wife Bathsheba. The least that Ekiti State’s Governor Kayode Fayemi can do is to unearth the killers and ensure they are brought to justice if the blood of the dead, like that of Abel, is not to cry out of the ground against him. As governor, Fayemi is the chief security officer of Ekiti and the buck stops on his table. It is his duty to get justice for those whose life, like Abel’s, Uriah’s and Nabot’s, was snuffed out in cold blood. Failure, he will account, like Dele Giwa minced no words in telling us, if not now then later; if not before man, then, before God. Fayemi must follow up his instructions to the CP, Ekiti State to unearth the killer-cops. The death of the two FUOYE students, for now, has been woven around the legs of Fayemi’s wife, Bisi; unless Fayemi is able to shift the guilt elsewhere, that is where it will remain – and that is where justice shall be served. Having first driven away the fox, let us now return to speak a word of truth to the FUOYE students: But for the fact that students will always be students, why demonstrate and risk your life over an occurrence as common in today’s Nigeria as power outage? For those of us not students and who also suffer power outrage – and have to pay rapacious estimated bills to boot - where do we carry our own protests, peaceful or violent? But, then, like they say: “Agba wa bura pe ewe o se o ri!”

As an undergrad at Ife, I, too, demonstrated on a countless number of occasions, storming Lagos and screaming “Obasanjo na goat o, na goat o, (Shehu Musa) Yar’Adua barawo ni, o omo eran” On one occasion we vandalised a posh car belonging to Mr Olusola Saraki, the then Senate Leader, within the premises of the then Senate Building at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. Thank God, we were not shot by errant security details of power-drunk politicians! It is likely that the Fayemis also demonstrated while on campus at Ife. What if they had been shot?

What is left of VP Osinbajo?

On Monday, the Buhari administration stylishly, even if in characteristically deceitful manner, admitted to the failure of policy and personnel when it disbanded its Economic Management Team headed by VP Yemi Osinbajo and instituted another called Economic Advisory Council (mere semantics!) headed by one Mr Doyin Salami. The new EAC got rid of Osinbajo as both head and member. Who does not know that this is an indictment and that Osinbajo is being held responsible for the many astounding economic failures of the Buhari administration? Osinbajo as VP is not allowed into security meetings; Ministers and other political appointees report to the president through the Chief of Staff; civil servants and parastatals report to the president through Secretary to Government of the Federation; and now, the economic team bypasses the same VP who has the statutory responsibility of chairing their meetings! What is left for – and of – Osinbajo in the Buhari administration? Pity!

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