Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Matters, Rep Rita Orji, has warned South Africa to caution its citizens, stating that neither the country nor its people has monopoly of violence. The warning came hours after a similar reaction by the presidency.She spoke on Monday while condemning the recent South African violence against Nigerians in which their businesses were burnt and their goods looted.
She also decried the attitude of the Federal Government towards the protection of Nigerians outside the country, saying it was more interested in remittance from citizens abroad and not their welfare.
Addressing journalists in Abuja Monday, Orji (Ajeromi Ifelodun Federal Constituency of Lagos State) accused the government of over-protecting the businesses and interests of South Africa despite unabated xenophobic attack in that country.“Are they only important to us just because they need to contribute to National Development?” She quipped.
“Are we calling them ours because we needed to get hard currencies remitted by them? What about their health and their businesses, are they being protected? Are they being taken care of in the treaties we’re signing in this country?
“Have we taken any bold steps to make sure that incessant killings of Nigerians abroad unlawfully are being taken care of? These are pertinent questions that any Nigerian that loves life would ask.
“And why would this conspiracy of silence linger while blood is being shed, while Nigerians are being killed like chicken in various countries, while Nigerians are becoming endangered species.”.
Orji recounted some of murders of Nigerians in South Africa, Libya and other countries some of which she said her committee had investigated and given the report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with no visible action taken.
The lawmaker called on the Foreign Affairs to rise up to its duty called for a full briefing from the Nigerian Embassy in South Africa “on how many Nigerians killed and how many houses were burnt and property looted”.
“The South African Government should bear in mind that Nigerians know that they have interests, they have businesses here, they have South Africans here, they should not put their people in jeopardy.”
Earlier, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, told the committee that though it is the responsibility of the Ministry to protect Nigerians abroad, funds were not made available to the Ministry until the present 2017 budget proposals.
She said: “It is estimated that there are up to 15 million Nigerians abroad. It is therefore a herculean task for the Ministry to provide protection and welfare assistance when no provision was made for that purpose in the Mission’s budget.
“Other countries make financial provision for repatriation of remains, lost income and loss of passport, funeral expenses, medical bills, amongst others, which our missions can’t, due to the paucity of funds. Yet, Nigerians expect, unrealistically, missions to offer these services.”
According to her, it is only in the 2017 budget that the sum of N400,000,000.0 was appropriated.
“This is clearly inadequate to cover the sheer volume and complexity of the consular challenges facing Nigerian Missions abroad, including the strategic engagement with Nigerians in the Diaspora.”