Persistence of Xenophobic Attacks Against Nigerians In South Africa

The Government of Nigeria has expressed concern over the continued killing of Nigerians in xenophobic attacks in South Africa. This is as findings revealed that one Nigerian is killed weekly as a result of xenophobic attacks in the country.
Xenophobia is a hate crime where logic goes beyond the often accompanying and misleading criminal opportunism. It is a deep dislike of non-nationals by nationals of a recipient state, with the real motive of the violent attacks being, as unambiguously expressed by the perpetrators themselves, to drive foreign nationals out of communities.

Senior Special Adviser to the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, stated sadly, while condemning the attacks, that in the last two years, 116 Nigerians have been killed in South Africa. Irked by the persistence attack, Dabiri-Erewa lamented that efforts at curbing the killings were not working. Also reacting to the xenophobic attacks, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, said “the efforts are not working because South African authorities are not cooperating with us. It is a monumental problem because the ordinary South African is envious of the success of Nigerians.”

Xenophobic violence against foreign nationals in South Africa has worsened. South Africa witnessed widespread xenophobic attacks since 1994. There has been much speculation about the causes and triggers of the violence. A number of reports have highlighted various issues contributing to xenophobia, including poor service delivery and competition for resources. According to recent statistics, 63% of the 116 Nigerians killed in South Africa in the last 2 years met their deaths at the hands of the police. However, the figure has since increased to 118, following the number of deaths recorded since February 2018. The latest of the killings were the deaths of Messrs Francis Ochuba and Chidi Igwebuike last week.

These violent attacks reveal that the drivers of the persistent xenophobic violence in South Africa, as well as the lack of effective response and timely preventive interventions, reflect a dreadful lack of competent, decisive, and trusted leadership at all levels of government. This can affect the relationship of the two regional hegemons, which are viewed as forerunners of continental development, thereby influencing the integration and development of the continent. There is need for reviewing national and continental efforts toward structural prevention of this hate crime and effective response. On the part of the Nigerian government, the present administration should continue its efforts on provision of a national welfare scheme for the average Nigerian citizen, which will help to restore hope for young Nigerians waiting to migrate in search of greener pastures, and ensure they do not become victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa or death in other parts of the world.

Ademola Olayiwola