Nigerian firms have started denying their links to South African business interests.
This followed the anger being expressed by Nigerians over Xenophobic attacks on their countrymen in South Africa.
Nigerian youths on Tuesday vented their anger on South African businesses to protest the xenophobic attacks against their fellow citizens resident in South Africa.
Angry youths in their hundreds in major cities such as Lagos, Uyo and Ibadan stormed Shoprite and MTN offices, disrupting their activities and destroying facilities. Some of the firms were also looted.
In Uyo, one MTN office had its glass doors and windows shattered, while attempts by protesters to burn down one of their offices in Lagos was foiled by security operatives. The firm’s in Ibadan and Kaduna were also not spared.
The attacks on South African businesses also followed tales by Nigerians, whose legitimate businesses were razed and their homes vandalised by those claiming to be after blacks committing crimes in their country.
In most of the plazas occupy by Shoprite and other South African firms, Nigerian firms also rented spaces to market their products.
Some Nigerian firms also went into franchise deals with South African and European firms to make more money. But, to these firms, this is not a good time to flaunt such links.
A Nigerian analyst, Gbenga Oyewo, gives an account of how the franchise businesses are done: “They get into franchise agreements with foreign companies. They get privilege/right to produce or market a good or service under a patented process or trademarked name. They employ foreigners, especially the whites to manage the businesses so as to deceive their fellow Nigerians that the companies are wholly foreign. They understand the psyche of every Nigerian. Nigerians love anything foreign. We choose where a product is manufactured before the quality of a product.” He says.
“They make fortunes by this business strategy. Anytime you raise the ‘Nigerian-ess’ in any of these businesses maybe as a result of poor service, they deny it and convince you with their foreign faces. They smile to the bank at the expense of small-scale business owners. Small-scale business owners lose their customers to them in droves. They kill local products. They get business loans and Customs waivers while small-scale business owners get none. ” He adds.
Oyewo, however, lamented that when it is time to share from the liabilities of the franchisor as a result of the South Africa xenophobic attack, they are running helter, skelter revealing a new business strategy.
“Now, they tell you the businesses are no more foreign. That they are owned by Nigerians and the foreign faces managers are merely employees!” he said.
Also on Tuesday, the Nigerian government appealed to Nigerians not to attack the South African businesses operating in Nigeria in retaliation for the ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians.
In a statement issued in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said targeting South African businesses in Nigeria, like shoprite and MTN, over xenophobia attacks would hurt Nigerians more.
He said attacking South African companies in Nigeria was, for Nigerians, ‘a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face”.
According to the minister, the investors in such South African companies in Nigeria, especially MTN and Shoprite, are Nigerians.
He said the majority of the workers in the South African companies operating in Nigeria are also Nigerians.
“This means that Nigerian workers will be hardest hit if such companies are forced to shut down for fear of attacks,” he said.
Mohammed described as “deeply disturbing” the reports that some Nigerians, angered by the xenophobic attacks had started attacking South African companies in Nigeria.
He assured Nigerians that the Federal Government was already taking decisive measures to put an end to the persistent xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
”President Muhammadu Buhari has dispatched a Special Envoy to convey to his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa, his concerns and also interact with his South African counterpart on the situation.
”Also, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, acting on the instruction of Mr President, has summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria to get a brief on the situation.
“Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens; and secure assurance of the safety of their lives and property,” the Minister said.