Johannesburg - Nigerians living in South Africa are demanding participation in future elections in the Southern African country.
The foreign nationals argue their economy is contributing a significant percentage to the South African economy of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) via the number of South African multinational firms operating in Nigeria.
Nigerians interviewed by CAJ News argued that South African companies were raking in billions of dollars from Nigeria into South Africa yet Nigerians living in South Africa were not allowed to make any meaningful contribution towards policy formulation as well as representing its people (Nigerians) in the country.
MTN, Multichoice, Mr Price, Checkers, Pick & Pay, Standard Bank and South Africa Airways, among others, have operations in West African nation.
MTN owns 52 percent of Nigeria's mobile telecommunications market share, Multichoice’s DSTV boasts a 90 percent of Nigeria's satellite television while franchises such as Nandos, Chicken Republic and St. Elmos account for an estimated 50 percent fast food consumption share in Nigeria.
“The South African government must allow Nigerians living in South Africa to contest in parliamentary, ward council, provincial legislature, even the mayoral elections for those top positions.
"Apart from having a sizeable Nigerian constituency living in South Africa, the government must allow our citizens to be party of policy makers in parliament because we contribute more than 15 percent of the country's GDP,” claimed Ikela Ikechukwu, who runs a small business in Yeoville.
Ola Uche of Hillbrow echoed hissentiment.
“The South African government must treat this call as a matter of urgency, otherwise some of us here would have loved to contest in the forthcoming elections to take in May.
"We have every reason why we should be allowed a certain quota in the South African parliament just like the quota set aside for South Africa's disabled people... this is the same quota that we also want as Nigerians," Uche said.
Several Nigerian business people who have invested in property, retail sector, technology, publishing and motoring said the idea to have a quota for Nigerians to contest elections was “feasible” and “genuine”.
“Facts are there for everyone to see, so there is no reason why we should be denied the right to be in the South African parliament representing our own people here.
"The SA government wants jobs, of which we have created thousands of jobs for South Africans as well through our companies in local cities. It is not everyone from outside South Africa that comes looking for jobs. Others come to create job opportunities,” Udoka Ngozi said.
There were no immediate comments from both the SA and Nigerian governments.
However,Lerato Ramaphosa of Alexander in Joburg, said the Nigerians' proposals were "asking too much" insisting such proposals should not be allowed to take place.
"We have allowed the Nigerians to do business freely with us in a smart partnership, so why would they want to invade our parliament?
"That must not be allowed to happen, otherwise we would have sold our country to foreigners," Ramaphosa said.
Commenting further, South Africa's Mamello Mogale, who owns a spaza shop in Katlehong, said the Nigerians' demands should not be accepted, arguing that they would have set a wrong precedence to other foreigners living in the country.
"What Nigerians are saying is like South Africans demanding to have MP's in Lagos or Abuja........that will not work?
"I'm sure their decisions were rushed and thought of irresponsibly," Mogale said.
Nigeria has a population of 170 million with its GDP standing at $268.8 billion while South Africa's population is estimated to be $52 million with a GDP of $375.9 billion.
- CAJ News