Mr President, Charity begins at home

By Kunle Famoriyo

It is the belief of AfeninifereRenewalGroup( ARG), that, the image of Nigeria requires better management, than the way is being presently handled by the leadership of the country. Two recent events confirm our position.

The first is the rash reactions that followed UK's announcement of a visa bond for Nigerian visitors. Federal government has promised to “protect interest of Nigerians” and has even summoned British High Commissioner to a meeting in Abuja.

Secondly, while addressing Nigerian community in Cameroun, President Jonathan said Nigeria did not appeal ICJ ruling on Bakassi, partly because it is interested in protecting Nigerians living in Cameroun.

It is good that our government is prompt in attending to needs of Nigerians living abroad, but does charity no longer begin at home? These two incidents show disparity in government's commitment to peace and prosperity at home; even portraying government as ready to compromise on Nigeria's prosperity for the sake of those in diaspora.

As bad as the UK's policy may sound, it underscores Nigeria's dwindling international reputation. Our foreign minister disclosed that as many as 9000 Nigerians are serving prison terms abroad, with the highest, 752, in the UK. The announcement said the bond would only be forfeited if visitors overstay their visa duration and that the policy is targeted at “high risk visitors.” So, if the UK wants to discourage overstay; do we want to encourage it? Similarly, Deputy Chief of Mission, Nigerian Embassy in China, Ambassador Patrick Olusola Onadipe, lamented that 366 Nigerians are in Chinese prisons, mostly for drug trafficking. Four are in death row in China; 22 in Indonesia.

Instead of mouthing empty promises, we believe our government must regain the trust of its citizens by implementing people-oriented policies. We know of a truth that many Nigerians abroad want to come back home – not to be a burden on us but to help improve the economy. It is so sad that our government has not been able to create the enabling environment for their return; yet it wants to protect them so they continue living abroad and so the brain drain trend continues.

As of today, power generation stands at 2,290mw in a country that needs 40,000mw. The transportation and other basic infrastructure lie comatose still. Worse still, politics of re-election, nepotism and ethnic sentiments have become the determining factor for implementing federal government's policies, even the media is no longer free to exercise their rights, judging from the fresh charges filed against Leadership Newspaper journalists.

AfenifereRenewalGroup(ARG) thinks, Nigeria has no business courting foreign governments over its citizens' “interests,” only if we utilize our resources for our citizens' interests. Mr. President, charity must begin at home.

Kunle Famoriyo
Media/Publicity Secretary(ARG)
08161111020, 08021185077, 08074508181