President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday reassured Nigerians living in South Africa that measures had been taken to prevent a reoccurrence of xenophobic attacks against them.
Apart from reported deaths, many Nigerians have lost properties and their means of livelihood to recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Buhari, during a town hall meeting with Nigerians in South Africa, noted that the South African authorities have expressed their apologies and resolved to take necessary steps to end the ugly trend.
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 console the families of all those who lost their lives over the years in such tragic incidents. May their souls rest in peace.
“I also commiserate with all those who were injured. May God heal their wounds. My sympathies are also with those who have lost properties.
“As a government, we are quite disturbed by this very unfortunate event and have taken actions and measures to address the issue and prevent its reoccurrence 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 Airpeace Airlines, who showed compassion and patriotism by immediately offering to evacuate our Nigerian brothers and sisters who had been affected by these xenophobic attacks.
“During my visit here, we have discussed these attacks on foreigners and Nigerians. The authorities have expressed their apologies over the incidents and have resolved to take necessary steps to end this ugly trend in the interest of our relationship.”
According to him, the two countries 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.”
Buhari also called on all Nigerians to be law abiding and respect constituted authorities while they live in South Africa.
“May I also enjoin the few that sometimes gives us a bad name to desist from such misdemeanours and be our good ambassadors,” he said
He told the gathering that he always has his three messages for all Nigerians in diaspora.
He said: “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 asset 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.”
Buhari said that his administration established a dedicated agency, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, to guide them in actualising their willing contributions to the development of Nigeria.
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