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…Says attack on businesses in Nigeria misguided, self destruct

By Nsikak Ukpong, Uyo

A former deputy speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Dr Uwem Udoma has described the recent attacks on Nigerian businesses in the country by angry youths in alleged retaliation to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by some miscreants in South Africa as misguided and a self destruct response that is counter productive, warning that such indignant behaviour, if not checked is capable of undermining Nigeria’s already worsening security situation.

Udoma who was reacting to Tuesday’s attack, looting and vandalization of an MTN franchise shop at No 41 Ikot Ekpene road in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital said, the shop do not belong to a South African but a Nigerian who is striving to create jobs for the many unemployed youth and help grow the state and nation’s economy, stating that the attack was a direct attack on ourselves, by ourselves.

“The attack on MTN offices in Nigeria is wrong and misguided. To start with MTN is also owned by Nigerians. The franchise is sold to Nigerian businesses. What these miscreants going about burning MTN shops in Nigeria do not know is that the highest percentage of shares owned in MTN belongs to Nigerians. The name is a franchise Nigerians only use to run their business”, he stated.

He noted with dismay that two wrong cannot make a right, explaining that rather than get angry and take laws into our hands, Nigerian youths should call on the federal government to create the enabling environment that will stimulate healthy competition among small and medium businesses so that the monopoly that a company like MultiChoice has on the Nigerian market can be revered in the short, medium and long term.

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This he noted can be achieved through a well thought out thorough and systematic policy initiation and implementation that will see a Nigerian entrepreneur get into the Digital Satellite Television business to create and provide a strong alternative to DSTV which MultiChoice currently has monopoly, just as it was the case with the telecommunications industry where by the dominance of only one service provider was broken by the entrance of Airtel, 9Mobile and Globacom who can now compete favourably with MTN.

Such policy he noted, will help create an alternative to MultiChoice that have dominated the Nigerian market with currently no viable challenger who can create an alternative for the market.

He stated that the current gang up against MTN also needs Nigerians who are major shareholders in the company to speak up and own up their ownership and partnership in MTN, “that will go a long way to reorient, educate and calm rising tension from angry Nigerians and help them see clearly the harm they are doing on themselves and on other innocent Nigerians,” he said.

“They (South African’s), are destroying Nigerian businesses over there but you are here compounding the problem by destroying legitimate businesses of fellow Nigerians back home thinking you are destroying South African businesses in retaliation. How many South African nationals are working in MTN shops in Nigeria? How many South African nationals are working or buying things in Shoprite in Nigeria? The MTN office along Ikot Ekpene road in Uyo that was attacked belongs to a Nigerian not a South African. The building housing the shop is also owned by a Nigerian, so the attack is not only senseless but barbaric and misguided,” he declared.

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He called on the government and security agencies to be proactive by stepping up its intelligence gathering capability so as to nip to the bud, any possible threat to national security as a result of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by South Africans, this he said, will prevent hoodlums and miscreants from taking advantage of the crisis to loot shops considered to have affiliation with South Africa and cause a breach of public peace, law and order in the country.

“Destroying shops owned by Nigerians, carting away phones, laptops and other valuables is criminal and has nothing to do with being in solidarity with our brothers who are victims of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa,” he stated

He explained that while Nigeria has a population of over 200 million, South Africa has a population of only about 40 million but with a larger land mass than Nigeria but with better infrastructure, good roads, steady electricity, a booming and viable economy.

“What Nigerians should do is to demand for good welfare and better infrastructure from their leaders. They should demand that governments at all levels should create jobs to grow the economy and create opportunities. The time has also come for the federal government to reshape our foreign policy as a country.

He advocated for the identification of all Nigerians residing and doing businesses in South Africa, their proper indexing, and for the Nigerian government to compel the South African government to pay compensation to all Nigerians whose source of livelihood and businesses was affected by the senseless and unfortunate attacks.

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The former lawmaker commiserated with Nigerians in South Africa whose businesses have come under attacks leading to great loses, admonishing them to remain strong and unbroken as they will always have the solidarity, prayers and support of their compatriots back home.

He noted with delight that the remittances and repatriation of funds by Nigerians in South Africa back home has always contributed to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy, and called on them to keep the Nigerian spirit alive.

Udoma also called on the government of South Africa to rise up to its responsibilities and obligations under the international law and the African Union Charter by defending Nigerians and other immigrants in their country, stating that it is a shame and a moral burden for the South African government to be docile while Nigerians and other foreigners come under attack in their country.

“Nigerians are very intelligent, hardworking and industrious people. That is why any where in the world they find themselves, they excel due to their inbuilt spirit of enterprise. South Africa must not forget the role Nigeria played during the Apartheid regime and must be mindful of the fact that all over the world, even in the United States, the United Kingdom and all over Europe, immigrants have contributed significantly to the growth and development of the economy of their host country and must not be treated as less humans. Laws governing International relations and diplomacy must be upheld,” he submitted.

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