By Reno Omokri
First published in my column, #TheAlternative, in Sunday Thisday of September 8, 2019.
The recent and ongoing xenophobia attacks in South Africa has finally and totally exposed General Muhammadu Buhari for what he is, an armchair general that is only strong when confronting unarmed civilians, but becomes fully impotent when faced with violence that marches his own brutality.
If Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burnt, then it is safe to say that General Buhari was either picking his teeth with a toothpick or was engaged in his favourite pastime (cartoons, according to Garba Shehu), while Nigerians and their property were burning in South Africa.
The remarkable and astonishing complacency shown be General Buhari for the first four days of the attacks just showed that he was a deer in the headlights. Dazed, unsure of himself and wiling and even eager to follow the lead of smaller African countries like Rwanda and Madagascar. The man has rubbished whatever claim Nigeria had to being the Giant of Africa.
For the first four days, the Buhari administration did nothing. Absolutely nothing. In fact, they did more than nothing. They prevaricated. Put their heads in the sands and hoped it would all go away. What a remarkable abdication and dereliction of duty.
But then, I began to ask myself if his inaction was the result of CLUELESSNESS or CARELESSNESS. Could it be that General Buhari is NOT bothered about the KILLINGS of Nigerians in South Africa because he feels that most Nigerians there are Igbos. They are 5 percenters.
I say this because, when and If he wants to, he could act fast. Remember how fast he acted with Zainab Aliyu in Saudi Arabia? In that case, we saw a Baba go slow transform to a superman.
There are several things he could do if he TRULY was outraged by the killings. There is a ‘MORALITY CLAUSE’ in MTN’s license. He could invoke that. When SA feels the financial pinch, the killings would stop INSTANTLY. Also, General Buhari could lift from the Donald Trump playbook and impose TARIFFS on SA goods and services. We buy more from them than they buy from us. It would hurt their economy and they would stop the killings VERY FAST. But apart from talk, Buhari has done NOTHING of real substance. In fact, it took his government 5 days to issue a TRAVEL ADVISORY! If South Africans were killing herdsmen’s cows, you would have seen speed of action!
And to think that General Buhari harshly criticised his predecessor, former President Jonathan, and called him clueless. Yet, on March 4, 2012, South Africa deported 125 Nigerians over Yellow Fever Certificates. The very next day, Jonathan ordered the deportation of 84 South Africans. 2 days later, South Africa apologised and reversed the deportations. That is a LEADER. Not this wet blanket called General Buhari! The fact remains that South Africa knows that we do not have a leader. We have an old Stone Age despot without vision.
Thankfully, many Buharists themselves have publicly condemned the President’s inability to act meaningfully and assert himself during these crusts. But what gets me is when they point to the late General Sani Abacha and say that he would have handled the situation decisively. Stuff and nonsense!
I get irritated seeing some people say Abacha was a STRONGMAN who would have dealt with South Africa. Abacha was NOT strong. He was a BLOODTHIRSTY BUFFOON. Former President Obasanjo is 10 times the man Abacha was. Abacha killed people to make himself FEARED. Obasanjo made people RESPECT him by sheer force of WILL. There is a big DIFFERENCE.
Anybody can make himself feared if he kills enough people. It is not a sign of RESPECT. Do you RESPECT a killer with a gun? No. You FEAR him. But take away the gun and the killer loses his power of FEAR. Abacha was that killer. Obasanjo did not need a gun. He has a COMMANDING PRESENCE that inspired RESPECT. If Obasanjo was in power, he would not have to deal with South Africa because the xenophobic attack would not even happen in the first place!
Since the attacks are continuing in South Africa, we must accept that we do not have a functioning leader and therefore we must take nonviolent citizen action to stop the unjustified attacks on our countrymen and women. But what can we do?
I call on Nigerians with an MTN SIM to SWITCH. Each RECHARGE you make STRENGTHENS the killers of our brothers and sisters. If you have DSTV, SWITCH. Your SUBSCRIPTION ELONGATES South Africa’s arrogance. Avoid SHOPRITE. You shop WRONG if you shop there!
General Buhari will not help our people. We must help them. The only thing I will not support is VIOLENCE. But your MONEY must FIGHT for YOU! South African firms in Nigeria send BAGS of MONEY to SA from Nigeria, meanwhile South Africa is sending Nigerians in SA back home in BODYBAGS! Our people make South Africans MONEYBAGS and this is the thanks we get. BOYCOTT everything South African until the killings stop!
Attacking and looting South African firms is WRONG. But BOYCOTTING them is RIGHT. Take the BUSINESS PATRONAGE you give StanbicIBTC, MTN, DSTV and Shoprite and give it to a Nigerian firm doing the same business. South Africans do not feel it when you TALK. If you want them to feel you, let them feel your WALLET.
I have been to Jamaica. Our Black brothers in Jamaica are poorer than South Africans. There is HEAVY crime in Jamaica, yet they never attack foreigners, Black or White, because they know their economy is dependent on them. Let us teach South Africans the Jamaican lesson.
And the thing is that there is such a remarkable lack of gratitude on the part of South Africa over what Nigeria did to secure their emancipation from the White minority apartheid government.
During the apartheid era, Nigeria gave 300 Nigerian passports to African National Congress leaders and paid their travel costs, so they could travel the world seeking freedom for South Africa. Google it. Don’t take my words. Nigeria doesn’t deserve what South Africa is doing to us!
However, Nigerians must also police ourselves through our embassy and community unions in South Africa. There was MASSIVE goodwill for Nigeria during Nelson Mandela’s tenure. He facilitated emigration of Nigerians. But few criminally minded ones killed the goodwill.
While we must continue rejecting xenophobia in South Africa by boycotting everything South African and instead #BuyNigerianToPunishSA, let us understand that the BEST SOLUTION is FIXING Nigeria so Nigerians don’t have to seek greener pasture in SA! That is the PERMANENT SOLUTION!
Nigerians have yet to REJECT a President who called us ‘CRIMINALS’ on February 5, 2016 and called our youths ‘LAZY’ on April 19, 2018. The South Africans are only thinking that if their leader REJECTED them, who are we to ACCEPT them? CHARITY begins at HOME!
And let me conclude on this issue by asking if it is right that the Nigerian Presidency CONDEMNED Oby Ezekwesili for attending the World Economic Forum, in South Africa even when Nigerians called for #BuyNigerianToPunishSA, but hid the fact that General Buhari’s right hand man, Nasir Elrufai was also at an event in SA? Why single out Oby?
Don’t be a FOOL that makes NOISE when he or she is BUILDING WEALTH. You are most vulnerable to satanic forces during your TRANSITION from POVERTY to PROSPERITY. BUILD your WEALTH in SILENCE and let your PROSPERITY make the NOISE for you. And while you are building the wealth, don’t PRAY for LIFE to get EASIER. PRAY that you become STRONGER. Don’t PRAY not to face TRIAL. PRAY to GROW by overcoming TRIALS. Don’t PRAY for your ENEMY to DIE (that is a SIN). PRAY for your ENEMY to LIVE LONG enough to see you OVERCOME them
Thinker. #1 Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years. Avid traveller. Table Shaker. Buhari Tormentor. Sharer of the Gospel, not the gossip.