The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has vowed to disrupt the operations of MTN and other South African businesses operating in Nigeria because of continued xenophobic attacks targeting Nigerians living and doing business in South Africa.
NANS said it has successfully picketed outlets of MTN, MultiChoice, Stanbic IBTC and Shoprite across Nigeria in protest over what the organisation describes as "frequent attacks on Nigerians in South Africa".
"Nigerians are being killed in South Africa while South African businesses heavily rely on their operations in Nigeria for profits. If the safety of Nigerians cannot be guaranteed in South Africa, then all South African businesses must leave Nigeria," an official of NANS told ITWeb Africa.
Condemning the actions of NANS, MTN Nigeria said locals make up approximately 90% of its workforce. The company denounced xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, adding that it has repeatedly made its position known to NANS during interactive sessions held with the organiisation's leadership.
South Africa responds
Although NANS accused the South African government of complacence that has emboldened perpetrators of migrants-targeted violence, Naledi Pandor, South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation described NANS' allegations as "devoid of truth, reckless and unwarranted".
"Firstly, there is no targeting of any group of Africans in South Africa. Secondly, our law enforcement agencies are making every effort to fight crime and arrest all criminals," Pandor said.
Pandor also extended invitations to the leadership of NANS and Nigeria's Senate President of Nigeria.
"A delegation should visit South Africa to see for themselves that many Nigerians live in peace and harmony among South Africans. We would also ensure that a delegation of members of the executive visit Nigeria to further strengthen our relations," the Minister added.
NANS has added that it will not renege on the seven-day ultimatum issued to MTN and other South African businesses to leave Nigeria.
In addition to the campaign to disrupt operations at several companies, NANS is also discouraging Nigerians to boycott SA firms.
NANS has local chapters across Nigeria that follow the directive of the organisation's national secretariat.
Local market analysts believe non-response by Nigeria's regulators to the issue and the actions of the organisation is tantamount to silent endorsement.
"The Nigerian Communication Commission needs to come out to support MTN and condemn the disruption of its operations, other regulators need to stand up for the affected companies so that NANS will know that it is going to be resisted by the Nigerian government. But so far this is not happening," said independent analyst Dapo Abidoye.