Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has faulted those describing Nigerians living in South Africa as criminals engaged in drug peddling and other forms of crime.
Contrary to the claims, he believes those making such allegations should be thankful to Nigerians, many of whom he says are contributing to the growth of the South African economy.
The former president stated this on Saturday during a session with reporters at his Presidential Library residence in Abeokuta, that Ogun State capital.
He said, “Nigerians in South Africa are not drug peddlers, they are not criminals.
“There are many of them that are genuine businessmen, genuine professionals who are making meaningful contribution to the economy and the social life of their country.”
Speaking further, Obasanjo noted that he met two Nigerians doing legitimate business in South Africa with the turnover running into millions of dollars.
He added that these people employed scores of South Africans in the country.
In the face of recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and others in that country, the elder statesman condemned the insulations that foreigners were taking the jobs of South Africans.
He advised Nigerians in the diaspora to be good ambassadors of their country and cautioned South African authorities against bias while punishing erring foreigners.
The former president warned against being partial, stressing that offenders should be punished in line with the constitution of the country.
He said, “The point that I made and that I believe should be made is that if a Nigerian in South Africa commits an offence, you don’t have to say ‘this is a Nigerian’; he is a citizen, a resident of your country and please treat him according to the law of the land.
“And the idea of thinking or saying that foreigners are taking your job; that also should be killed because most of these foreigners bring something into the country.”
“As I have always said, Nigerians living outside Nigeria must try to be good citizens of wherever they live. Be a good citizen of where you live and if you break the law, let the law of that land take its course,” Obasanjo added.