It is needless to count the numerous sacrifices made by Nigeria to ensure that South Africans were liberated, but for providence, few of them are imperative.
Nigeria committed herself fanatically to the abolishment of Apartheid in South Africa lunching her presence in international politics when she condemned the Shapeville massacre of 21st March 1960 – when the white South African police attacked South African leaders who were protesting against racial discrimination and domination killing about 72 blacks with many wounded.
Nigeria led the call for political and economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa in the international community. They also called for the expulsion of South Africa from Commonwealth of nation in 1961; banned importation of goods from South Africa, cancelled award of contracts to South African companies, gave grants of $US 32,000 to ANC – the political party that later assumed power after Apartheid was abolished; they further contributed one million naira to ANC, PAC, SWAPPO to fund their struggles; supported the liberation movement in the Southern Africa with a yearly allocation of 5 million naira between 1979-1983; donated $US 1 million to ACN in 1989; severed relationship with America by denying the US Secretary of State entry to Nigeria to protest her role in Apartheid; Nigeria naturalized the British Petroleum (BP) as well as Barclay Bank because of their ties with South Africa and Nigeria led 32 countries to boycott Commonwealth Games.
The sacrifices of Nigeria has been forgotten by South Africa who now see Nigerians as threat to their livelihood. However, there are lessons to be learnt in Nigeria’s gradually flagged, punctured and diminished relations with South Africa.
First, is that Nigeria has lost its leadership position in Africa because of her inability to develop her economy and engage in policies that would stability her domestic environment; close to a million Nigerians are currently living in South Africa and other parts of the world because of Nigeria’s leadership crisis which has led to bad economic policies leading Nigerians to pursue greener pastures abroad; due to Nigeria’s weak economy, the country cannot apply the principle of reciprocity in curtailing the excesses of South Africans.
The attacks against Nigeria is real. Her leaders must move beyond rhetorics and deal with the issues at home. We should prepare for the future. Extensive research has shown that there is a linkage between domestic policy and foreign policy of any nation. Nigeria must explore to regain the confidence once reposed on her by Africans. The APC led federal government should therefore see these attacks as an opportunity to reflect on her domestic policies with a view of concretizing solid policies that would build her economy and provide jobs for millions of her employable citizens.
Now is the time before this sleeping giant called Nigeria is put to bed forever.
Dr. Tom FredFish is a media consultant and public affairs analyst