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The humiliation of Nigerians abroad


Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, the phenomenon went on the increase the other day with reports of many innocent Nigerians coming under racial and vicious attacks in different parts of the world.

Just when it seemed the worst had been seen of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, the phenomenon went on the increase the other day with reports of many innocent Nigerians coming under racial and vicious attacks in different parts of the world. This is unacceptable by any standards.

In some Indian and South African cities, Nigerians have been subjected to indignities in obvious hate. Sadly, the Nigerian government has not adequately reacted to these confirmed widespread reports about the organised acts of savagery carried out on innocent Nigerians in these countries. The Foreign Affairs Ministry that ought to take on the issues has been docile, silent and sheepishly quiet. This is disgraceful!

The list of attacks is lengthy. Sadly, South Africa for which the entire world stood up to fight for her independence from the apartheid white minority government has had a long history of such attacks. In 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2017, there were wild waves of brutal attacks on foreigners. Owing to the huge migrant Nigerian population in that country, a great number of Nigerians suffered great losses, including lives too.

In India the other day, specifically in New Delhi, Nigerians were the targets of mob attacks on account of their skin colour and nationality. In 2014 and 2016, there were similar attacks on Nigerians. The month of March 2017 has been terrible for Nigerians living in Delhi, a state that has gained notoriety for racial attacks on Africans. Many were beaten by mobs while security agents looked the other way or hunted down like animals by the officials of state themselves. In all of this, and this is the tragedy, the Nigerian diplomatic missions have not been known to intervene unequivocally on behalf of her citizens, a situation that is at odds with the purpose of establishing those missions in foreign countries in the first place.

Another dimension to this macabre drama is the horrendously dehumanising treatment to which some Nigerians are subjected while being deported from some foreign countries. There are acceptable minimum standards which deportees are subjected to while in transit.

There have been many cases of Nigerian deportees shackled in hands and legs like animals or tethered to aircraft seats. Such occurrence, of course, should receive the automatic reaction of Nigerian authorities. But this hardly ever happens.

It is common knowledge that even convicted criminals still have some rights. To pick up a Nigerian from the streets of a European country or America for immigration violations and put in chains for hours like wild animals is unacceptable and it is only the Nigerian government that can intervene to save the dignity of Nigerians.

This newspaper subscribes to the ideals of justice and fair play at all times. There is the need for all Nigerians or foreign nationals to respect extant laws of their host countries. If migrants run foul of extant laws, they should be punished according to the laws of the land.

However, to allow the brutalisation of Nigerians for any reason is failure to adhere to the tenets of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on migrant populations. Migrant labour is a reality of the 21st century owing to the demands of globalisation and less fortunate economic circumstances of some countries. Currently, there are 232 million migrant workers around the world. This represents 3.1per cent of the global population. Host nations, therefore, have to learn ways to protect these workers who have left their home countries for trade and work purposes.

Nigeria is home to a sizeable number of foreigners both of African and non-African descent. Indians, Africans, Lebanese, Americans, Britons and people of Asian origins work in different sectors of the Nigerian economy. Some resident Indians have been notorious for being brutal and insanely callous to their Nigerian workers. There have been no mass riots against these foreign nationals. If anything, the nation’s law enforcement officers have often looked the other way. Also, there are citizens of many African countries who work in the construction sector in the country. During the liberation struggle, Nigeria played host to South African students who were placed on Federal Government scholarships to study various courses in Nigerian universities. Nigeria was also considered a ‘Frontline State’ in recognition of her vigorous and uncompromising stance in the anti-apartheid struggle. Obviously, the current generation of South Africans does not have the benefits of history or chooses to be blind to such.

Enough is enough. By the principle of reciprocity, the Nigerian government must make the feelings of the Nigerian people known to countries whose citizens unleash insane acts of brutality on migrant Nigerians. These acts of unlawful attacks will continue if Nigeria keeps turning the proverbial cheek. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been silent and this is unacceptable. The ministry ought to lead the way. Happily though, the Foreign Affairs Committees of the National Assembly have been vocal.

Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora deserve the attention and protection of the Nigerian government. That is the responsible thing to do. The Federal Government should, therefore, live up to its responsibilities and commitment to Nigerians wherever they may be. The diplomatic missions representing Nigeria around the world should be mandated anew to provide for and protect all Nigerians at all times. If Nigeria does not show respect and concern for her own citizens, no other nation will. And government officials must always stress the positive. It is wrong for a leader to generally condemn citizens of his country to the outside world. It is worse for diplomatic missions to abandon Nigerians in their domain of operation in spite of the fact that they are paid and obliged to offer services to distressed Nigerians.

Finally, South Africa and India are known to have huge capital investments in the Nigerian economy. It is immoral for Indians and South Africans to reap the benefits of the Nigerian economy, yet their home countries inflict indignities on her citizens.

The time has come for Nigeria to show those who treat Nigerians badly that there is something called the principle of reciprocity in international relations.

In this article:
Xenophobic Attacks
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  • bobo

    It’s only the beginning. Nigerians commit a lot of atrocities wherever they are. It’s all in the name of becoming rich as quickly as possible. Everyone that has ruled the country since December 1983 has failed the masses. The then government was corrupt, but it was way better than what the decay that the Buhari led coup brought. Yes, that coup was the beginning of the dearth of our existence, future and morals. They preached borrowing then, and it’s what they are preaching today. No ex military, together with their devious associates, should be allowed to rule the country because they have no clue. The other one who plundered Lagos State will be running soon. May God help you people if you vote him in.

    • Ify Onabu

      Hello, where do you get the idea that ‘Nigerians commit a lot of atrocities wherever they are’? Do you also include the hard-working Nigerian professionals making their mark in different parts of the globe? Think before you write, my friend!

      • loveontopover

        A lot of Nigerians living abroad do not care about the image they show the world about Nigeria and Nigerians. Those who are professional we commend them, but those who are criminals destroy whatever gains that have been made by the professionals. Even as Nigerian, before you employ a fellow Nigerian, you will have to go through extreme stress and nightmare because you know already what he can do. Denying it is ostensibly no solution to our irregular way of doing things, trying to get rich by all means. Even to recommend another Nigerian for employment is risky because you know that he would run with their money!

  • Ify Onabu

    The reason is that our country does not project any power on the international scene. All this talk about Nigeria being the ‘giant of Africa’ is rubbish… infact childish. Ever heard that Americans are maltreated or molested in any part of the globe? You do not even dare to think of it. We must come down from our high horse and stop deluding ourselves. The Nigerian government is only interested in Nigerians abroad because they make remittances in dollars, euro and pound sterling to keep our local economy going. Mrs Abike Dabiri has, indeed, made a career of this. Shame of a nation!

    • Uche

      Nigeria is the “ant of Africa”

  • Ezekiel Okeke

    Symbol of ruined, collapsed northern entity call Nigeria. Biafra is a model for its natives and citizens all-over the world with maximum security, dignity and respect.

  • Ify Onabu

    And our so-called Minister of Foreign Affairs appears to be wearing a coat too big for his size. If the job or the office is too intimidating for him, why can’t he just tender his resignation letter? The University of Lagos churns out yearly seasoned graduates of International Law and Diplomacy. The Federal Government should do well to recruit from those ranks. Haba!

  • Ade

    Same pubishment for india staying in 9ja simple as that

  • Mystic mallam

    The editorial makes sense but mostly in one direction – blaming foreign governments for mistreating, or not doing enough to protect Nigerians that are prone to mistreatment. The Nigerian government is given only tangential blame for the plight of Nigerians in foreign lands. The first issue here is how the Nigerian governments treat the citizens right here in Nigeria – any better than the foreigners treat them? It’s trite to refer anyone to the impunity that attends the gross use of primitive force often leading to death of citizens by the police, army, DSS and other uniformed agencies. Secondly, Nigerians will be shocked to know that it is the Nigerian Immigration Service that enters into obnoxious agreements with foreign governments that authorises them to deport Nigerian citizens in shackles and manacles as if they are wild animals. Thirdly, it is the same federal government agencies [Immigration and Foreign Affairs] that issue emergency travel documents that enable foreign governments to deport Nigerians tied up hands and feet. As for intervention of the foreign ministry on behalf of Nigerians overseas, it should amaze no one that in over two decades, the federal government has not put a kobo in the consular budget for the care and protection of its citizens around the world. The biggest shock of all: several top government officials believe that the victimised Nigerian migrants are criminals of sorts, mostly from specific parts of the country, who are simply receiving their due desserts. No one compelled them to travel out, and government should not waste scarce resources on such unpatriotic people who bring only shame to the country, and misfortune upon themselves. Nigerian politics and politicians are to blame for the misfortune and mistreatment of Nigerians overseas. If our polity were stable and our economy strong and growing, why would our youths, whatever the zones they come from, be voting with their feet when they could stay here and prosper?

  • OmoOba

    Our present Minister of foreign affairs Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama, needs to be on top of this game. I may be wrong, but that’s what his body language and actions portrays to the Nigerian public. He also need to work with people like Abike Dabiri and others to harmonize their actions through robust intelligent information gathering for appropriate actions. The other time, when Dabiri told us that some Nigerians were turned back from the US airports, Onyeama refuted the claim until later when it was confirmed through the victims. That ought not to be, it is shameful that he seems not to be on top of his games. These people, South Africans and Indians are treated with respect here, and especially the Indians. If they do not treat us with dignity in their countries, THERE IS NO NEED FOR GENTLE-MANSHIP approach, please treat them the same way. Bullies only understand bully treatment otherwise he will take you for a ride forever. Read the history of slavery in America, then you will understand this line better.

    An average South African man don’t like Nigerians, it’s a stereotype, I am saying this from personal experience. The only voice that will make sense to them is when you try to reciprocate their actions. Remember the other time when some SA companies were threatened in Abuja? It was after that incident that SA Authorities seemed to wake up and started talking. When they experience a backlash, they will talk to their insane people!

    Indians are everywhere in Nigeria, and they live free and make profits here too. They do what they like including freedom of worship. If you go to places like Palm-groove Estate in Lagos, everywhere is Indian with their gigantic worship houses and they live like Kings. Are Indians and other Asians in Nigeria saints or crime free especially in business and other activities? Your answer is as good as mine.

    This contribution is not meant to incite the public against these people or to support crimes allegedly committed by Nigerians abroad. Rather it is a form of wake-up call for foreigners; treat crimes under the law of your lands not through mob actions. There is an adage, that ‘he who has a scrotum should be mindful of scrotal hernia’. If you are in my house, you don’t treat my people who lives in your house anyhow, otherwise the same treatment could be meted out to you too.

    Some people are of the view that the companies brought by these people could be forced to leave with a consequence of worsened joblessness in Nigeria. That is an ABSOLUTE FALSE! Let them go, others will come. People are jostling to come do business in Nigeria because of our population size.

    Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, there is a time for everything under the sun. Obviously this is no time for gentle-manship, it is a time to talk and act tough. Another time will come for a round table talk when the dust is settled.

    What is the consequences of inaction? Attacking Nigerians might become an epidemic, it is SA and India today, tomorrow it will be Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, UK, US and . . . Then attacking Nigerians become a game, a pass time for others. Then Nigerians become endangered specie because of inaction of some people on whose shoulders the responsibility to act is placed.

    This can be avoided if appropriate action is taken NOW!

  • Comfortkay

    Nigerian goes abroad to study and return home but when the Military takes over power and remain for long in power Nigerian then starts going out as refugee and so on abroad. Please blame our Elite when Nigerian are humiliated abroad. Everyone is trying to survive and noone wants to live in a cold country.

  • Nwabu King

    Nigeria is a failed state; quite frankly, the only way forward is to return to the 1963 constitution, then renegotiate statehood. We continue to practice “democracy” within a non-negotiated state structure that was bequeathed to us by the military. Our levels of government and civil service employees remain at non-sustainable levels, requiring our government to borrow money in order to pay salaries. Politicians have to be forced aside, so that the youth can step in to salvage this country. In my opinion, the goals of government are to enact laws, enforce laws, assure the protection of life and property, collect taxes, construct roads: the summation of all these functions is the creation of an environment where Nigerians can conduct business. The civil service and security forces carry out these functions. The only way pensions can be paid, is when we have a thriving private sector. I am calling for the immediate return to the 1963 constitution, and a referendum on the continued existence of the Nigerian state. Hear hear.