President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa after receiving the report of the Special Envoy sent to South Africa to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
The President gave the order, stating that all Nigerians who are willing to return to Nigeria should do so immediately. The special envoy had conveyed the deep concern of the President and Nigerians about the reoccurring violence against Nigerians and their property/business interests in South Africa.
Although President Buhari is deeply worried that the constant xenophobic attacks could negatively affect the image of South Africa if nothing is done about it, he assured South African authorities that the Nigerian Government would guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria.
President Ramaphosa also condemned such violent acts which damaged the reputation of the country and the relationship the country has with other African countries.
Buhari further directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama to continue to discuss with the appropriate South African authorities so that appropriate measures would be taken to end the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
Prior to this development, Air Peace had offered free flight services to the Nigerians living in South Africa back to the country. In a statement made available by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chairman and Chief Executive officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema was quoted to have said the airline would release its aircraft to bring Nigerians home.
Why this matters: Several businesses owned and operated by Nigerians have been put at risk, as their outlets and shops have been subjected to attacks by South Africans in the xenophobia. Many Nigerians had lost their lives during some of these attacks, just as some had also lost their means of livelihood.
This move is expected to help save the lives of some Nigerians who might be in danger and are stranded over there in South Africa.
The backstory: The current xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa were triggered by the death of a South African cab driver reportedly killed by a Tanzanian drug dealer. The incident happened about a week ago in the Pretoria area of South Africa, after which many foreign-owned business outlets and houses were looted and razed with fire.