Perhaps the highest justice is to give the devil his due. President of America, Donald Trump, maybe seen as a devil by many people. But the recent attacks and looting of shops of foreigners, and the earlier killings of many Nigerians in South Africa, reminds me of Trump’s approach. If the Nigerians killed in South Africa were Americans, Trump would have ignored all protocol and diplomatic pretenses, and resort to social media to warn that if the South Africans can no longer confront their oppressors, they have no reason to kill their liberators. He may even add: “I ain’t gonna take no s***, men!” There are two dimensions to the problem. First, the penchant of some Nigerians to export indiscipline, lawlessness and crime. A number of them have been executed for drug offences in foreign lands. It is disturbing that Nigerians, and many Africans without pride are not only trooping to other countries , in very dehumanizing condition through the desert, but also hawking dangerous drugs in the countries they live illegally.
The countries they are trooping to were built with the sweat of their citizens. Is it not shameful for Nigerians to be trooping to South Africa illegally, in search of what they call greener pasture, when you can hardly find illegal immigrants in Nigeria from South Africa? How many South Africans have been arrested for hawking drugs in Nigeria? Why must we destroy our country and insist that other people must allow us to destroy theirs? Is destruction the only job we can do very well? Should our contributions to civilization be reduced to indiscipline and destruction? Are we comfortable with our status as formidable destroyers? If the house of your father is on fire, is there no obligation to help in putting off the fire rather than running away to the house of another person.
To appreciate the rascality of living illegally in another country and hawking drugs, we need to compare it to a situation where somebody moves into the house of another person illegally and start selling dangerous drugs to his children. Does this not speak much about one’s irresponsible upbringing, and a dangerous life style that must be tamed? Interestingly, most liberation struggle fighters of South Africa, who have so far produced the four post-apartheid presidents of the country, have high regard for Nigeria, because of her invaluable contributions to the liberation of their country and region. Professor Attahiru Jega is not a music man, but as his student, I know that at a time, his favourite song was “Fire in Soweto” by Sonny Okosun. He may have even tried some dance steps out of commitment to the liberation struggle in Southern Africa. But for Nigerians to be taken seriously, the country must put her house in order. Other countries are so much in a hurry to develop their countries, they cannot wait for Nigeria. Stories reaching us about the conduct of Nigerians who live illegally in some countries and hawk drugs should be a source of concern and shame to all Nigerians. A responsible father will have no moral right fighting another father whose children are sold drugs by his child. Imagine going to another house to challenge a family for beating your child, only to be told that your child moved illegally into their house, and was introducing their children to dangerous drugs, with incontrovertible evidence. Will you have the guts to say: So what? Is that a reason to beat him? I do sympathize with South African’s because it happened to me. The security man of my former neighbor was suspected of selling dangerous drugs to young men in the area. My neighbor was told by elders of the area that he should sack the security man or they will report him to the NDLEA. He sacked him. We missed the man because he was very diligent with his work. But he had to go. The Head of Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabire, must be supported to work with other countries to ensure that all Nigerians living illegally in other countries are repatriated. She can do it. She is an energetic woman who is very passionate about her job. She did very well during the campaign of President Buhari. Have you seen her dancing and sending the message of James Brown: “I feel alright?” In Ekiti State, she even tried to snatch some dance steps from Baba. He just smiled and moved on. From experience, repatriating and allowing them to go home and sin no more will not work. It has been done several times, but they mostly find their ways back, especially those who were repatriated from Saudi Arabia. A concrete policy of shaming and jailing them should be considered. Special courts and prisons should be created for this purpose. Also, rather than begging for leniency for drug offenders, we should insist that they should be executed in their communities in Nigeria, in the presence of the ambassador of the country they committed the offence, if their guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt. But Nigeria must value and respect her citizens, if she wants them to be respected outside. Strong message must be sent across that any Nigerian who commits an offence is to be taken to court. The jungle justice of attacking Nigerians in South Africa is not acceptable. Justice must only not only be done, it must be seen to be done. Nigerians at home should not engage in reprisal attacks or killings. But a word is enough for the wise. The threats to MTN, a South African company, by some youths in Nigeria has attracted the attention of South African government. Sometimes, Malcolm X solution is the best solution. It was he who berated Martin Luther King for his “I have a dream” mentality. “Overcome them with our capacity to love. What kind of phrase is that?”, Malcolm asked contemptuously. For him, “the only thing power respects is power!”. I agree with him. Fela has a song for it: “I no be gentleman atol atol (at all, at all)”.