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A COUNTRY DESERTED BY HERS, EMBRACED BY OTHERS

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Honestly, it feels good to hear the Nigeria Immigration Service(NIS) announce, on Friday in Akure, Ondo State, that it has arrested 147 illegal immigrants from various spots of Akure metropolis and will soon repatriate them to their respective home countries.

This is coming on the heels of an earlier report that the NIS has arrested 110 illegal immigrants in Enugu who would soon be deported.

Why am I pleased by these you may wonder? It affords us the opportunity to boast that we are of a country that repatriates illegal immigrants as well.

Pedestrian, isn't it? Even though it is, it, none the less, shows that we are not doomed to always be at the receiving end, we are about proving ourselves to be at the giving end as well.

But sincerely speaking, it is rare coming by the news of Nigerian government, better still, the NIS deporting illegal immigrants. What we always hear is that they have been arrested and are going to be deported. We hardly get to see when they are actually deported. Check this out:

On March 25, 55 illegal aliens were handed over to Immigration for deportation while on 27 of the same month, 102 illegal aliens were handed over for deportation. Similarly, on April 2, the police handed over 14 illegal aliens to Immigration for deportation. The Lagos State Police Command on April 16 also handed over another 271 illegal foreigners to the authorities of the NIS for deportation while another

146 aliens are still being screened.
One explanation for this may be that there is no money to effect their deportation. Nonetheless, NIS has shown to be very hospitable for it to be accommodating these aliens without deporting them, yet, possibly bear the cost of feeding them. Perhaps, it is safer to believe they are deporting them clandestinely without engaging the usual media hype. No matter the matter, NIS deserves our approbation for doing their job.

Be that as it may, that is not the focus of this piece. What caught the attention of this article is the fact that as bad as people portray Nigeria to be, there are others who still want to come here and get a piece of the action. To them, Nigeria becomes an el dorado.

Yes, the same Nigeria you know!
Though it is true that the aliens being arrested are mostly from neighbouring West African countries like Chad, Niger, Benin, Mali and the likes, this does not detract from the fact that they see Nigeria as having more opportunities than their home countries.

And the actuality that they could travel into the country without the required papers seems to reflect their desperation to come and partake of 'Fascinating Nigeria' although they lack what it takes. They must have said to themselves; let me still go, for the returns from the venture will be worth the crime of entering Nigeria without visas.

Ergo, they came.
Posers: Is it still not the country that its youths will want to desert for 'better lands' at the slightest opportunity subjecting themselves to extreme danger in the process? Is it not the same country about which many have asked, "can anything good come out of Nigeria?"

Yet, these illegal immigrants in their numbers have resolutely answered the last question in the affirmative, hence their coming, albeit illegally. However, I'm sure the risk they took in coming was nothing compare to what young Nigerians subject themselves just to check out of the country.

As if the country is a gulag they are trying to escape from.

Permit me to apply the breaks here and allow one of my unpublished articles to complete the story:

How do you sympathize with one who neglects the norm but embraces death or its harbinger in the name of deserting his father land? How do you commiserate with a deceased who in a bid to get to el dorado does the unthinkable by putting his life on the line? This appears to be the past time of Nigerian youths.

Some time ago in March 2010, it was reported of a Nigerian youth whose corpse was found in the nose wheel portion of an aeroplane operated by the United States carrier- Delta Airline.

Few weeks ago, another story broke of a young Nigerian whose corpse was discovered in the wheel well of an Arik Airline plane that returned to the country from New York in the United States. The young man is suicidal, you may say, but I can wager that he didn't see it as such.

He may have been told tales of stowaways who succeeded in the 'escapade' and are now busy enriching themselves with the golden fleece in their dream countries. But, is it really possible to succeed as a stowaway in the external compartments of an aircraft? I doubt!

To use the wheel wells or other external portions of an airliner to get to one's destination brings about hazardous dangers difficult to overcome. If such a stowaway is not crushed by the wheels, he is likely to die from cold or suffocation due to lack of oxygen since they are neither pressurized nor heated.

Obviously, manufacturers of aeroplanes did not envisage human beings concealing themselves in the external compartments, hence they had no business making it conducive for humans. Yet it is these parts of an aircraft that some of our youths are opting to use as they journey to the countries they believe flow with milk and honey. Hmm!

This, to me, smacks of the height of desperation and a classic case of misdirected determination. One thing you can see in those with this mentality is their sheer optimism towards succeeding. But this optimism is misdirected because if you are so bent on succeeding to the extent of putting your life on the line, why not go all out to succeed in your country and success will come calling. I am one of those who believe that Nigeria favours those who are resolute!

There are other ways that Nigerians have shown their determination to go abroad. Some are hard-hearted enough that they tread the Sahara Desert en route Europe and other western countries. Those who undertake this option suffer to no end as they even condescend to drinking their urine just to quench thirst amidst other harsh conditions.

Still, its not as if when these illegal immigrants get to the supposed el dorados someone will be waiting to fill their sacks with hard currencies. They will still have to burn themselves out working to earn enough to take care of themselves over there. They virtually become slaves in another man's land executing jobs they can never imagine themselves doing back home.

This goes to show that the cliche "it is a crime to be poor in Nigeria" is sinking deep into the psyche of most Nigerians and they don't want to commit that crime. Hence their obsessive desire desire to extricate themselves from the clutches of poverty. But how did we get to this terrible pass?

Don't look too far. In our country, the dictum is 'every man for himself and God for us all.' These days brothers do not look out for a fellow brother. A rich relative would rather burn his money on frivolities than part with a smidgen of his stupendous wealth to help a kin attain his dream.

And for the politicians, they literarily do not give a damn! They would rather flaunt their wealth, showing you how large they are living than for them to let you have a smattering of what they grabbed from our collective till. So, we are all guilty in this.

But this does not warrant our youths taking extreme measures in freeing themselves from poverty. At least, if they are to take to the extremes, it should be within the armbits of the law. It should also be safe enough to guarantee their being alive to enjoy the fruits.

One thing that can't be taken away from Nigerians is their can-do and never-say-die spirits. This disposition should be an asset, not a liability. We should leverage on it to make our nation one that other nationals would take great risks to come and savour the milk and honey we made to flow in our land. Yes we can do it, after all we have the can-do spirit.

The government should also assist in making this come to pass. The onus is on it to create the enabling environment and incentives to make the youths succeed. Those running the government should desist from actions and inaction that would make our citizens flee the country courting death in the process.

Written By Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
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