“There’s so much division within the Nigerian community!”

Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mr. Festus Ogbeide the chairman of the All progressive Congress (APC), South Africa Chapter, (the ruling political party in Nigeria) said there is so much division within the Nigerian Community in South Africa. He said this while reacting to the incident that played out at the Nigerian Consulate where President Buhari met with some Nigerians.
Mr. Festus hinted the Nigerian Voice Newspaper during an exclusive interview on the 18th of June 2015 in Pretoria. According to him “it is so unfortunate that those who organized the visit for Mr. President to meet with Nigerians in South Africa decided to stoop so low to expose themselves”.

The APC Chairman said “personally, I think they’ve exposed themselves because my observation of the activities on that day is that the Consul-General and the NUSA administration only succeeded in exposing the deceit that they are made of. Because for me, the number of Nigerians who came for that visit only showed that there’s so much division within the Nigerian community and it is been encouraged by the Consul-General and the Consulate office”.

Mr. Ogbeide continued “The group that originally formed NUSA in 2007 was seriously undermined. The Egbe Omo Yoruba was not there. The Niger Deltans were not there. The Arewas were not there. It was just a ganging up of a particular tribe. For me, I felt so bad that the Consul-General could not pick that. And she went ahead to display to the president that only the Nigerians from the east are the only Nigerians in South Africa”.

“I am of the view that we cannot continue with people who want to divide us along tribal sentiments. Diplomats are supposed to come and serve Nigerians not to divide Nigerians. What they displayed on that day at the Consulate was a total divisive programme and it is unacceptable to us”, Ogbeide stated.

The APC chairman promised that the issue will be seriously looked into and authorities in Nigeria will be notified. “Some of us have said we are going to petition the Foreign Affairs ministry and also to get it to the presidency because we can’t travel thousands of kilometers from Nigeria and get to South Africa and allow public servants to divide us because some individuals want to benefit from the system. For us, we are going to reject it with all we have and make sure that such does not repeat itself going forward with Nigerians in South Africa”.

Reacting to President Buhari’s speech allegedly quoted out of context while addressing some Nigerians at the Consulate office in Johannesburg, the APC chairperson said President Buhari’s speech was straight and direct. Mr. President emphasized the need for Nigerians to be united “Mr. President’s speech was straight and direct. Mr. President emphasized the need for us to be united as Nigerians. He emphasized the need for us as Nigerians to be law-abiding citizens in our host country. He went as far as calling on all Nigerians to work with him so that we can salvage our country. It’s so unfortunate that he was quoted out of context. You must also understand that majority of the people in the hall that day were PDP remnants. So, what do you expect from them? It has always been the case for the PDP to spin stories. We know them for that and I am not really surprised. But I think it is so unfortunate that could play out on that day”, said Mr. Festus.

The APC Chairman also took time to express his delight at the victory of his party at the last general elections in Nigeria and the situation of the Diaspora chapters. He also gave a detailed insight about the status of the APC South Africa chapter and the diaspora commission bill that was recently signed by the 7th assembly Senate that ended its tenure.

In his words, APC South Africa has been able to lodge their application with the mother body because all Diaspora chapters have been mandated to reapply with the mother body. This they did during their last visit to Abuja and an acknowledgement document was issued for their application. The process will be completed with a response from the mother body. The party man said APC South Africa was in Nigeria during the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Expressing his joy of working for the victory of the party and seeing his dream of an APC all-inclusive government come true, Mr. Ogbeide said it was out of the moon for him. He personally considered the APC victory as a personal victory, because of the struggles the party put in since 2008 starting from AC to ACN and the merger with other opposition parties who formed the APC. He said it really gave him so much joy and confidence that Nigeria can get it right and that the country was able to come together and confront the issues that Nigerians faces in terms of the type of governance that has been in place since 1999.

The party chair believed that “it’s more or less God’s hand in that victory because not all Nigerians believe that the party could defeat the incumbent. But some of them saw it as a challenge and they confronted it. Today, it is on record that APC actually sent the PDP government packing.

The APC Chairman has welcomed the PDP led senate decision to approve the diaspora bill which they have been clamoring for over eight years. “Well, despite the fact that the PDP-led senate decided to approve the bill, you will know that we have been clamoring for it for the past 8 years. The PDP government has always been reluctant in passing that bill”.

Speaking further on the Diaspora Commission bill, Mr. Ogbiede said “personally, I welcome it because I believe that the commission will give a lot of us as diasporans opportunity to go back home and serve our government and our people. I remember in one of our meetings with the party chairman, Chief Oyegun. He hosted diasporans to a dinner in Abuja and one of the issues we raised was this issue of the bill. And, he promised us that as far as he is concerned they would make sure that Mr. President signs that bill into law, so that the commission can be established”.

The Chairman was confident that the party will call on members and people to prepare them-selves for service. “Definitely, they would call on us to be part of the commission.  For me, I think we need to now prepare ourselves for service because we all know that Nigeria of today has a lot of good opportunities for you and me but because of lack of good governance a lot of us have relocated to other countries. So the fact that the new government has that bill approved by the Senate, I think the APC gove

The APC Chairman’s advice to his fellow APC members is that they should step forward and be active in the process of nation building. “Well, APC members in South Africa need to step up; come forward and be active in this process. Wherever we are, we need to come out and take charge of public space. Be it at our mission and even within South African community”.

“We can’t continue to allow those who have oppressed us to have their way, whereas, we have suffered and worked and we have ensured that our government is in power. So, this is the time for our members to come out and actually take charge, so that the process of building our country ends up being an all-inclusive process”, stated the Chairman
The party chair also had some words for Nigerian youth. “The youth forms the majority of the electoral process. We have the number. We need to come out and position ourselves as the engine of our politics and even our economy. Because, you know the level of unemployment affects majority of the youth in Nigeria. And the only way we can address this is to encourage the youth to come out and be part of our politics because if you don’t have political freedom, you will struggle to get economic freedom. So, it is important for the youth to have this at the back of their minds and work with it”.

“And the fact that we have a President that wants to work with the youth, I think it is important that you and I go out there and spread the message to our youth and bring them out of their closet and be part of what Mr. President is trying to do for them and the country in its entirety. I think you and I have a lot to do. You as a media person have a role to play because as long as we continue to write and speak about these issues, I believe that the Nigerian youth will do the needful, suggested Mr. Ogbeide.

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