“ The President told me that there was so much at stake and whatever mistake we had made, we had to correct it . And I think that was a very good statement and I know that he meant it, because he immediately said ‘ what can we do or should we do?”
“ I met more than two Nigerians who are doing legitimate businesses and the turnover runs into millions of dollars and they employed 50 to 60 South Africans.
“ All these must be expressed and must be shown that Nigerians in South Africa are not drug peddlers and criminals; there are many of them that are genuine businessmen and professionals and who are making meaningful contributions to the economy and the social life of that country.
“ I think that is all we must be doing and be saying and my joy is that President Cyril Ramaphosa is ready to do what needs to be done to stop these incidents and to put the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa on the right track.
“ One of the things they are going to do between South Africa and Nigeria is that they are going to have what we established during my tenure – that we called bilateral commission.
“ I hope they will go back to South Africa from what I heard from President Ramaphosa. Like I said, the meeting that President Buhari and President Ramaphosa will have during the first week of October should smooth the ground. And the right statements and the right action coming from both sides should encourage our people to go back.
“ But, as I have always said that Nigerians living outside Nigeria must try to be good citizens of wherever they live.”
According to him, Ramophosa is ready to bring back the mutual understanding between Nigeria and South Africa.
“ I believe the President of South Africa did the right thing to quickly send emissaries to apologise to the countries that were affected ( xenophobic attacks ), countries like Nigeria , Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique and I think this was good.”
Obasanjo said Nigeria spearheaded the fight against apartheid in South Africa to ensure that the black man was not treated like a second-class citizen anywhere in the world.
He added:“ The record must be put right and we must let people know what has been done for all. What do we do for some of the people who helped us during our own civil war ; what do we do? Some people don’ t even remember those who helped us now , South Africa has got rid of apartheid since 1994. The young people who are agitating today don’ t even know what we did . But we shouldn ’t blame ourselves for that because we did what we did and we will do it again.
“There is no gratitude as such, what is in there is common interest and it was our enlightened self -interest and we don’t demand anything from South Africa for what we did . We did it because we believed it was our responsibility to do it.”