The issue on the front burner of public discourse in Nigeria lately has been the attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa. Xenophobia is the extreme dislike or fear of strangers or foreigners by an indigenous population. In the recent attacks, many Nigerians living in South Africa were reportedly killed, while the lucky ones had their property looted.
This is not the first time such attacks are happening. The first one was in 2015 in which not just Nigerians, but other Africans, were targeted.
It makes little sense that supposed African brothers would relish coming together to kill fellow Africans. But that was what happened in South Africa recently.
Nigerians watched sadly on the screens, print and social media, how their compatriots were attacked, some killed, while others had their property looted by those apparently too lazy to exploit the opportunities in their land.
The South Africa attacks on Nigerians is indeed unfortunate, given the prominent role played by Nigeria towards the emancipation of South African Blacks, who are now occupying leadership positions in that country, from apartheid. It seems their way of appreciating what Nigeria did for them is to kill them and loot their property.
While arguments can go on interminably as to who to blame between the South African Government and her people; or what the Nigerian Government should have done in retaliation, such will not remove the fact that Nigerians abroad are suffering because of failure of governance in their home country.
Nigeria has long been regarded as the Giant of Africa or the Sleeping Giant because of her enormous potentials and her reputation as the most populous black nation in the world. But that potential has remained as mere reputation, with the country never coming around to attain it.
The bad leadership prevalent in the country has caused the loss of some of the country's best brains. Nigeria's loss has turned out to be the gain of the countries those people have gone to. They left Nigeria because the environment was not conducive for creative talents.
This situation is not about to change, given the hopelessness prevalent in the country presently. This means that Nigerians will continue to seek greener pasture beyond their country's shores with the attendant risks, as the South African experience has just proven.
Rather than issue empty threats to countries where Nigerian nationals are being molested, the Nigerian Government should begin to make the home front attractive and conducive enough for her citizens to look forward to staying in their country.
How many ordinary South Africans are in Nigeria? It is not likely they are many. The ones here are the capitalists who are reaping Nigerians off through their companies like MTN and Shoprite. But the Nigerians who travel out basically go there to make ends meet because their country cannot provide for them.
The onus therefore is on the Nigerian Government to provide an enabling and conducive environment for her citizens to thrive. Those that lost their lives and those who lost their property in South Africa would be alive today and their businesses thriving, had things been better in Nigeria.
After nearly 57 years of Independence, Nigeria should be a safe haven for her citizens, a place where opportunities abound and where the citizens will proudly call their own. Providing such should be uppermost on the agenda of the federal government, while deciding on how best to react to the killing of her citizens.