Addressing traumas of xenophobic returnees

By Chinedu Aroh

Beyond ruing the unfortunate xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, there is an urgent need to address the after-effects of the ignoble incident. This has become necessary because of the magnitude of the destruction in both human and material meted to innocent Nigerians.

Commendation go to the federal government of Nigeria for various measures it has adopted to alleviate the plights of the victims of the morbid attacks, orchestrated by envy and nonchalant attitudes of South Africans who see hard work as a threat to their lackadaisical ways of life. Commendations also go to the management of Air Peace for voluntarily embarking on the airlift of the trapped and endangered Nigerians in South Africa as well as other agencies that have adopted measures to give succour to the victims. Indeed, this is an epitome of love that pervades amongst genuine Nigerians, and calls for its application in all facets of Nigeria’s endeavours. Such would eliminate bickering, favouristism, ethnicity and animosity that have cloaked the image of Nigeria, and will also showcase to the international community that Nigeria is a country of love and hard-working people. Such should also be emulated by other well-meaning Nigerians to activate the spirit of oneness of our beloved nation.

The airlift of the victims is however an immediate palliative measure in addressing the problem. Providing psycho-social supports and economically empowering the returnees are however other daunting tasks which call for the attention of all. It is obvious that victims of the xenophobic attacks, which cut across many nations of the continent, were engaged in genuine businesses where they were earning their legitimate living. With the turnaround of events, the federal, state, local governments as well as corporate agencies should devise means of restoring the hopes of the unfortunate victims, most of whom have become incapacitated both in hopes and economic activities. There should be intervention funds where they should access to start up fresh businesses in their fatherland. They could be encouraged to go into agriculture, tourism and other small and medium ventures. Credit facilities should be provided to them either as grants or interest-free on a long term basis to enable them to start life anew and also contribute to the socio-economic development of our fatherland. To this end, small and medium enterprises in various states, in conjunction with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigerian should toe the line of the Bank of Industry in providing succour to the victims.

No doubt, their sojourns for greener pastures might have been prompted by their beliefs that Nigeria was not ripe for their respective economic forays. With the federal government’s calls on Nigerian investors and even foreigners to invest at home, with various measures it has adopted to make the country attractive to private sector-driven economy, it is expected that efforts should be geared towards equating these calls with actions by ensuring that the conducive atmosphere attracting them overseas, such as security, constant power supply, favourable credit facilities, rule of law, and insurance policies are made available and functional in Nigeria.

While the federal government and other relevant agencies make strenuous efforts to find a lasting solution to the quagmire through diplomatic means, it is high time Nigerians realised that home is always the best. Although investing in other countries, such as South Africa, should not be dissuaded because no nation is an island, such should be an option for off-shoots of indigenous businesses. Dangote, Globacom, Peace Group, Air Peace, Slock Vessels, to mention a few, are all indigenous businesses that started from Nigeria and grew into an international acclaims. Encouraging South African returnees to establish businesses in Nigeria will not only give them the needed soft landing, but also a confirmation to other Nigerians in the diaspora that Nigeria is a country of great potentialities. The multiplier effects, when this is attained, include job creation, national pride, industrialisation and a national rebirth.

In all, the xenophobic attacks meted to Nigerians are unfortunate and anti-African unity, but will be a blessing in disguise if the lessons therein are learnt with positivity. It is indeed a litmus test and the microcosm of what Nigeria will be if we put our act together.

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