As the world continues to pay tribute to anti-Apartheid hero Nelson Mandela who died last Thursday, the Governor of Lagos state in Nigeria’s South-west, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has called on the South Africa government to acknowledged and show more appreciation for Nigeria’s front line role in ending Apartheid in the country.
“I was a teenager then around 1976 when the anti-Apartheid campaign really gained resurgence. And it was in every home in this country and the nation paid a huge price for what South Africa has become today. It was the core of Nigeria’s foreign policy,” the Governor told journalists in an interview here Monday while paying tribute to the fallen hero.
Mr. Fashola said the former President made a big sacrifice of 27 years in incarceration because of the struggle.
“No tribute paid to Mandela either during his life or after his death could really be too much. As I have said in a very short tweet that I sent out that we must feel privileged to have shared this planet with him,” he said.
Reflecting deeper on the demise of the global icon, the Governor recalled that in the dark days of Apartheid, Nigeria boycotted the Commonwealth Games because of South Africa and also took very drastic measures against foreign collaborators of the Apartheid regime, nationalising their assets.
“And I think that 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 who are paying the biggest tribute now,” the Governor added.
He noted that no other African country expended as much time, money and commitment to the fight against Apartheid as Nigeria, and wondered why upon all the country’s efforts at restoring democracy in South Africa, Nigerians are the ones being driven out of that country today.
While the British can enter South Africa without a visa, Nigerians have to take a visa, stressing that such issues pose very deep questions.
He expressed the hope that President Goodluck Jonathan would use the opportunity of going for the burial to take the leadership role that Nigeria deserves for the country to ask herself if she really has lost it and what is the way back.
On the lessons of Mandela’s death, Mr. Fashola said he has proved that the black man is not inferior, and that there is nothing wrong with the black man’s genes just as there is nothing wrong with the black man’s blood.