'South Africa should be eternally grateful to Nigeria'
Abuja – The ongoing attacks on Nigerian nationals in some parts of South Africa were a "criminal ingratitude" by South Africa to the role played by Nigeria in liberating the country, an analyst has said.
"Apartheid is one dark era in the history of South Africa that the country should be eternally grateful to Nigeria for her role in bringing the era to an end at the time it did," said Nigerian analyst Jude Ndukwe.
Ndukwe said Nigeria was the first country to provide direct financial aid to the now-ruling African National Congress from the 1960s, while in the 1970s, Nigeria supported the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) with an annual subvention of $5 million to help them in the struggle.
Nigeria set up a programme to cater specifically for their educational needs and general welfare through the Southern Africa Relief Fund (SAFR) to which then-president General Olusegun Obasanjo contributed $3.7 million.
Obasanjo made a personal donation of $3 000, while every member of his cabinet made donations of $1 500 each to the South African cause.
Ndukwe added that civil servants gave two percent of their income to the fund, then known as the "Mandela Tax".
"Students joyfully skipped their lunch at school just to be able to contribute to the fund." Ndukwe said that in six months' time, the fund had amassed $10.5 million sent to the South Africans."
According to SAFR, 86 South African students were educated in Nigeria for free.
Ndukwe said it is estimated Nigeria spent well over $61 billion between 1960 and 1995 to help fight apartheid and bring about democracy in South Africa.
"Yet, when the South African icon Nelson Mandela died, it was the leaders of the western nations that had turned their backs on South Africa in their times of need that were given prominent roles and front seats, while Nigeria and other African countries were relegated to obscurity," said Ndukwe.
He said if South Africa wanted to be "ungrateful" to Nigeria it should not kill Nigerians.