Adams Oshiomhole, the chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has called for the nationalization of South Africa-owned companies operating in Nigeria.
Among the South African companies Oshiomhole wants the federal government to immediately nationalise are MTN, a multinational mobile telecommunications company operating in many African, European and Asian countries, Stanbic Bank and the direct broadcast satellite service DStv.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Oshiomole also asked the government to withdraw the landing right of South African Airways in Nigeria.
He made the call after an extra-ordinary meeting of the leadership of the APC on the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other foreign nationals living in South Africa.
The party chairman faulted the statement credited to Bongani Michael Mkongi, the Deputy Minister of Police in South Africa, where he said that the dominance of Nigerian petty traders in Hillbrow, a township in Johannesburg, South Africa, was “tantamount to economic sabotage.”
According to Oshiomhole, “South African companies are making billions of dollars from the Nigerian economy year-in year-out and repatriate same out of Nigeria while they describe Nigerian-owned petty businesses in South Africa as economic sabotage.”
He berated the South Africa government, accusing it of being “envious” of Nigerians and other foreign nationals doing legitimate businesses in the country.
The APC chieftain also frowned upon a statement credited to Collen Maine, the youth leader of the African National Congress (ANC), which he said “suggests that the ANC as a party in South Africa finds nothing wrong in these wanton killings and looting of foreign businesses in South Africa.”
He asked the South African authorities to arrest any foreign nationals found guilty of any crime instead of labelling all of them as criminals. The former governor of Edo State recalled the role played by Nigeria in support of South Africa during the struggle against apartheid.
The party chief urged the Nigerian government to go beyond diplomatic actions, adding that Nigerians attacked in South Africa were not irregular immigrants and have not violated any law. Pending government actions, he called on Nigerians to boycott South African-owned companies in the country and patronise their local rivals.
“At some point, people wonder whether these attacks had the backing of the South African government. What has been clear over the period is that the South African authorities have not demonstrated sufficient commitment to bringing these attacks to an end. For example, in spite of the fact that many people’s lives have been wasted, not one South African is known to have been convicted and sentenced to prison,” he said.
The soured relations between both countries have affected South African companies in Nigeria as some angry youths attacked and looted MTN offices and Shoprite malls in some parts of the country between Monday and Wednesday.
So far, the Nigeria has withdrawn its ambassador from South Africa and sent a special convoy to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Nigeria also pulled out of the World Economic Forum on Africa, holding in Cape Town, from September 4 to 6.
A Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has offered to provide a plane to bring back home Nigerians who no longer feel safe in the country at no costs to the government and the evacuees.