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FASHOLA SPITS FIRE AS EULOGY POUR IN FOR MANDELA

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on Monday took another look at events in South Africa as eulogy continues to pour in for its first black President, Nelson Mandela who passed on last Thursday.
Fashola who was briefing state house correspondent, described what has happened with the passage of Mandela as nothing but a cruel irony, an absurdity of the highest order.

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According to him, those who took part in enthroning apartheid in South Africa that inflicted the greatest pain on her citizens are currently paying the biggest tribute, while Nigeria that paid the greatest prize in terms of human and material investment in liberating South Africa has been relegated to the background.

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For instance, he said that Nigeria nationalised many companies in protest against nations taking side with apartheid, while Nigeria made South Africa the focus international relations. The governor is said that despite all these, Nigerians are today the most vilified in South Africa, Nigerians remains the only people to be denied Visas by South Africa while Britain, America and the rest who took side with apartheid and put Mandela on terrorists list are those that don’t need visa to enter South Africa.

The governor believes that the passage of Mandela is however an opportunity for Nigeria to shine, hoping that the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan for the burial will give Nigeria the opportunity to play the leadership role that Nigeria deserves.

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“Tribute to Mandela, either during his life or after his death, cannot really be too much. We are privileged to share this planet with him. There are more questions to answer. When you look at the part of the world where ovation is now the loudest, it was the part of the world the pain was the most vicious. In a very cruel irony, history is being revised. The people, who collaborated with the government that enthroned apartheid at that time are the people that are paying the biggest tribute now. But I ask myself: is this not the time for deep reflection? I doubt if African country expended as much time, as much money and as much commitment as the Nigerian Government. I was a teenager then in 1976 when anti-apartheid campaign really gained resurgence in every home in this country. Nigeria paid a huge price for what South Africa has become today. I remember the anti-apartheid campaign was at the core of Nigerian foreign policy.
“ Apart from scholarship South Africans, I remember President Yar’Adua met Thambo Mbeki in South African and he was telling me about their relationship, which he said, was dated to when Mbeki used to come to Zaria for student exchange programme. I remember we did not go for Commonwealth Games because of South Africa. I remember we took drastic measures against the foreign collaborators of apartheid regime and nationalised assets. Brigadier-General Joe Garba was our Foreign Affairs Minister and Professor Bolaji Akinyemi was the Director-General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. There is no home that the anti-apartheid campaign was not then. Our university halls were named after Mozambique and all of these places. We funded all of these organisations in Angola and Zimbabwe among others.
“The tragic irony is that we are the ones being driven out of South Africa. The British can enter South Africa. We have to take a visa. These are deep questions because they hurt me. People like Fela Anikulapo nearly lost their voices, singing about freedom. As our president is going for Mandela’s burial, I hope he will play leadership roles we deserve or we should ask ourselves if we have really lost, what is the way back? As I said, history has been revised and our voice is not heard on the international stage. This is our glory because we contributed so much to this course, and perhaps we ask ourselves what the investment pay-off has been.
“As for Mandela, all the right epithets have been used to describe him. I cannot usefully contribute more except to repeat all the glowing things that have been said. For those of us still alive, we should imbibe lessons to forgive, negotiate and compromise. In every situation, you must not leave the table. No matter seemly difficult things are, there must be a larger course. And those larger courses are the courses of humanity and the courses of developing people. You can apply it everywhere that you must not turn your back to negotiation. I hope Africa will be a better place. The whole world will be a better place because Mandela’s theatre of expression is the whole planet. He reached everybody, even though he never physically met.
“I do not believe them. They believe we are inferior. I do not believe that. Mandela has proved we are not. There is nothing wrong with our genes. There is nothing wrong with our blood. It is just our attitude and disposition we must re-examine. Beyond that, there is nothing we cannot do. I believe there must some inspiration from there if any is needed. Really, it is to put spring on our heels so that we can reach the sky”, Fashola said.

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