A security expert and Deputy Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, South Africa Chapter, Prince Debo Adesina , in this interview with Adeola Ogunlade spoke on the Xenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa and the way out of the crisis. He also spoke about efforts of PDP members in the Diaspora to rebuild the party.
Can you tell me about yourself?
I am a private security expert. I do a lot of investigation and am involved in security management. I train security guards. I also look at immigration from the safety point of view. I was the first Secretary General of the Nigeria Union in South Africa. I stay in South Africa because it has one of the best security management systems in the world.
What are the opportunities that you saw in South Africa as a businessman?
I left Nigeria as a security expert and I left to expand my horizon and scope in the area of security.
I’m stationed in South Africa because they have one of the best security outfits in the world.
They are very good. In fact, we call them Europe in Africa because I have been to different parts of the world. The first time I landed in South Africa, I was surprised as I thought I was in Europe.
We, Nigerians in South Africa, we are like brain drain and we decided that whether our government likes it or not, they have to look at the Diaspora because we assist the needy and better our governance.
In South Africa, where we live, we see rule of law, good governance and how the citizens of that country are being looked after and support systems, which are readily available to the less privileged.
They take care of their citizens because the oath of office that they took is to look out for the welfare of their citizens.
The opportunities in South Africa are very large and we only appeal to our politicians back home to try and emulate some of the things they see in South Africa. In the area of infrastructure, they are the biggest in Africa and they are competing favorably with the rest of the world.
We can use them as a guide and some day we will get there?
South Africa has its own challenges, are you saying that they have a better democratic structure than Nigeria?
South Africa still operates a one party state due to the legacy of Nelson Mandela. The Africa National Congress (ANC) has been in power since Mandela took over from the whites. The party is very prominent at the National level. Other parties like Democratic Alliance (DA) are also part of the structure.
Just recently, DA won as Mayor of the city of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Their politics is that they don’t kill themselves to get into public office but to serve their people.
Ministers walk on the street without any convoy. The challenge in South Africa is that they still hold the mentality of the white monopoly by which they were brought up. Apartheid brought about a lot of setbacks and the country is trying hard to change.
We can emulate some of their values but not all. In terms of governance, they are better than Nigeria.
Nigerians have become endangered species in South Africa. How did things get to this point?
As the former Secretary General of the Nigeria Union in South Africa, I have consistency tried and my media presentations have been reechoed. I am not only fighting for Nigerians but the foreign nationals on Xenophobic through the United Nation.
We have a group called Protection working Group. It is sad that in parts of Nigeria, the people are giving the country a bad name because they go to any length to make money. We are now seen as drug dealers, and fraudsters. Some Nigerians have forgotten that back home, they have limitation of what they can do; abroad, they don’t care, they just want to make money, drive big cars, send money home to show that they live abroad. This created the hatred, as we are seen as gold diggers, people who have come to make money from their country and leave them home and dry.
So along the line, some of our people are victims of police brutality. The South African police kill Nigerians at will because they know that the justice system in South Africa is very liberal around drug activities.
They don’t have death penalty and capital punishment. Once you have money, and with good lawyer, drug dealers come out on bail and once they come out on bail, the cases remain in court forever. There are lots of cases pending for a long time in court. We have lots of Nigerians in prisons. We also have some of us who are doing well in South Africa but we are not well pronounced. We have doctors, lawyers, top notch business men and security experts, but the bad ones have overshadowed the good ones.
When you mention that you are a Nigerian, they ask you whether you are not a drug dealer or fraudster. This has affected the image of Nigerians in South Africa. We are organizing a movement we want to tag Nigerians lives matter. We are starting it from South Africa and would spread it across the world, including Nigeria. Nigerians are also suffering back home and their lives matter. We want to give back to good governance. We are Nigerians and Nigeria as a country will outlive Nigerians, so Nigeria will remain Nigeria, but the people will live and die one day, and what is important to Nigerians is that our people will live a better life and enjoy the best Nigeria offers without any intimidation.
Are the narratives from Nigerians giving room for xenophobic attack?
No, not at all. The problem is that when Nigerians leave the international airport, they forget everything called moral value and their aim is to make money anyhow.
Even in London, United Kingdom, in Thailand and other parts of the world where you see Nigerians, they turn to tigers and they are ready to do anything for money. I travel most times and the immigration officials search me thoroughly just because I’m carrying a Nigerian passport.
But I am proud to be a Nigerian and I refuse to be a citizen of any country other than Nigeria. I am so loyal to my country. I believe that the only advantage of being a citizen of America or any other western country is good governance and movement. I believe that one day; the world will respect Nigerian citizens and passport.
A lot of people have lost their lives because they want to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Some Nigerians are in Libya, but the government careless. Back home, there is contribution of bad governance. The recession is a global recession; the current government of APC fails to really identify what Nigerians need. Nigerians are hungry.
As the Deputy Chairman PDP IN South Africa, are you satisfied with the way PDP is led back home?
To be honest, we in the diaspora, we have decided to come and change the mentality back home about the party.
Because many people believe that politics is a do or die affairs, they are not ready to serve. They want to be seen as oga and not as servant, so the issue of leadership in Nigeria has no face of the political party.
It is the Nigeria thing; arrogance, impunity, and lack of respect for the rule of law. There are lots of cases against the federal government, the way they maltreat the opposition party. No freedom of speech. Recently, Tuface was planning to do something but the threat from some quarters made him to reverse his earlier plan but for him to have set the pace for the protest is commendable. I don’t pray for revolution like the way we had in the Arab Spring. Military forces will not be able to stop the hungry crowd when there is revolution because the people are ready to die. Fela Kuti sang in his song that Nigerians are suffering and smiling. The leadership in Nigeria has nothing to do with political party be it PDP, APC, AFGA. The leaders have failed to identify the real problems in Nigeria. It is good to fight corruption but what next. Let food be on the people’s table while fighting corruption
Posted By: Adeola Ogunlade