National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Biodun Ogunyemi has claimed that Nigeria has about 50 percent of the topnotch scholars in South African universities.
He said this on the heels of recent attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians in South Africa.
Mr Ogunyemi, a professor, stated these while addressing journalists shortly after the National Executive Council meeting of the association held at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State on Monday, 9th September, 2019.
He also averred that the Nigerian government was blameworthy rather than its South African counterpart over the attacks and looting of property of Nigerians in South Africa.
He explained that the migration of Nigerians to South Africa had been informed by the poor economic situation in their home country.
The Olabisi Onabanjo University don added that the respect South Africans had for Nigerian scholars in the rainbow nation might not make them susceptible to attacks but the same cannot be said of other Nigerians seen as greener pasture seekers.
In his words, “The situation we had seen in Nigeria is that the movement that we do is more of push factor by our own environment here.
“We are conscious of a position of weakness in which poor leadership has put this country. We have the resources to compete and beat South Africa on any ground such that the respect would be mutual. But today, they see us as dependent, inferior and people they could just discard with.
“If you go to South African universities, maybe, 50 per cent of their top-notch scholars are people from Nigeria or tutored by Nigerians.
“The academic and intellectual community in South Africa respect Nigerians. But, when you now start to compete with their income section, there is bound to be conflict.
“If we fix our country, South Africa will respect us. We lost our respect the moment we can no longer cater for our citizens. Even if we bring back people from South Africa and we don’t have plans for them, they will still find a way of going back.
“ASUU believes that Nigeria is not inferior to any country in this world; what we only need to do is to get our act right. Fix our country even leading countries in the Western world will respect us. We remain dependent and that is why we call Nigeria dependent peripheral rentier country. Nigeria operates at the fringes of global economy.
“If we have a country that does not respect its intellectual community, that country will never witness what we call transformation because education is the catalyst to development; but we shun education scholars here.”