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Life between SA’s Xenophobia and Nigeria’s “Zerophobia”

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ElevateNews takes a look at the fate of returnees from South Africa in Nigeria, in terms of the job opportunity.

As at Tuesday, over 500 Nigerians living in South Africa have signified their intention to come back home. Nigerian relatives who have their loved ones in South Africa have been making frantic efforts to persuade their family members to leave the country.

The returnees will have to choose between living with xenophobia in South Africa or leaving for Nigeria to live with “zerophobia”, a situation in which there is no job opportunity.

Last week, a Nigerian owned airline, Air Peace has volunteered to lift Nigerians who are ready to leave South Africa only to reveal that many of those who are ready to leave have expired passport.

On Monday, the Nigerian envoy to South Africa arrived in Nigeria and following their meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, it was resolved that Nigerians who were willing to leave South Africa should be brought back home.

According to the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, about 600 Nigerians are ready to leave South Africa.

Dabiri-Erewa did a lot in bringing back hundreds of Nigerians from Libya and some other parts of the continent. Buhari has okayed the return of Nigerians but with no plan to absorb them into the economy.

Looking at the scenario, many of the Nigerians still prefer to stay in South Africa where the economy is better to cater for their livelihood. Yes, South Africa has become unsafe for black Africans, mostly Nigerians due to xenophobic attacks, there are thousands who would rather face the risk of xenophobia than jumping into the plane to face hunger in Nigeria.

The South African Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that the country is angry and that it will be difficult to control xenophobia because the attacks are being perpetrated by criminals.

Shortly after he said this, thousands of mob stormed the streets again on Sunday to attack black foreigners and loot their stores. There was a reprisal in Nigeria last week in which some South African businesses were attacked by hoodlums.

The Shoprite in Lekki area of Lagos was looted while an MTN mast was set ablaze by angry Nigerians. With the reprisal attack, no fewer than 5,000 Nigerians had lost their jobs, according to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

He described the protest in Lagos as clear evidence of stealing but promised that the government would apprehend those that were involved in the looting. He also said that his administration would always provide the enabling environment and security for investors.

But how will the returnee live when they arrive in Nigeria? They ran away to seek greener pasture but it is unfortunate that they would be coming back to meet a Nigeria that is yet to get its footing. There is no job anywhere. Those who have jobs are underpaid and overworked.

To survive in Nigeria, the returnees, if they are lucky to lay their hands on something to do must be ready to double their hustles. I learnt that in South Africa, there is strict enforcement of labour law. This does not happen in Nigeria where employers owe workers months of wages.

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