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Call to President Jonathan Over Rights of Nigerians in Diaspora

It is a common perception that leaders are born, not made. This may be true to some extent because many people display some intrinsic traits right from birth, which put them in the position where they are looked up as leaders. A person's authoritativeness, confidence in speech and action and the ability to handle crisis without panic are considered some of the most effective leadership qualities, which sets people apart from the crowd.

There is no doubt that the 10 month old administration of His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan phenomenally witnessed some good traits of leadership to a reasonable length, even Nigerians in diaspora can attest to that fact. The recent intervention of President Jonathan about stranded Nigerians in Egypt, Libya and other troubled zones in the Middle East and Northern Africa are enviable examples that cannot be downplayed. Consequently this rare and commendable gesture of Mr President has recently garnered support for him from Nigerians in diaspora under the aegis of the New Nigeria Initiative for Development. The group said leadership has remained the bane of Nigeria, and that the outside world see Nigeria as 'corrupt' with bad image, but with what is on ground, it is their fervent hope that President Jonathan should be given a chance. Continuing, they commended the 2011 Budget proposal, stating that the aspect of the budget to tackle decaying national infrastructure, repair roads, restore the dignity and lost glory of the education sector and the health sector is a right step in the right direction.

Specifically, one Chief Ikiogha said, "We urge support for the government of President Jonathan to enable it to carry out substantive reforms in the administrative structure of INEC, through application of lessons learnt in the recent state elections, and through comprehensive consultations with civil society organizations, political parties and relevant experts. We believe that it is through a consultative process that electoral institutions would gain public trust". According to the group, "we support, promotion and pursue the election of the right candidate for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2011 as a panacea and imperative for the resuscitation of the ailing Nigerian economy and for the pursuit of the total integration of all ethnic groups in the Nigerian polity". For this, it said, " in return, we pledge that the days of the brain drain are over as we shall replace it with brain gain, judging by the competent leadership that President Jonathan have exemplified in such a short time since becoming president. We must confess that is largely because of this, that we in Nigerians in the Diaspora want to identity with his administration to achieve a brain gain."

They also pledged to initiate and pursue a robust programme to educate the executive and legislative arms of government in the various Nigerian states to elevate their understanding of the magnitude and scope of the constitutional powers in order to buffer each other arm from the tendencies of corruptive encroachment. I think with a group which has so much belief and confidence in President Jonathan, the interest of such group and those they represent should not be undermined in the overall interest of our great country.

However, President Jonathan is expected to exhibit once again his good leadership qualities by investigating the killing of 18 Nigerians in Equatorial Guinea allegedly on the order of the government, even as survivors demand $158 million compensation from the government of that country. Last week (February 25, 2011) some group of Nigerians, (Nigeria-Malabo Boat Operators Association) petitioned Nigerian government about this barbaric, criminal, odious and inhuman activity by the government of Equatorial Guinea. The petition, which was signed by their Chairman, Capt. Edet Bassey Archibong and Secretary Capt. Nnani Polycarp Nnamdi, said they were victims of “Malabo Attack of February 17, 2009 by the Government of Equatorial Guinea in which 18 Nigerians had unjustly lost their lives as a result of the attack that also brought untold hardship to our members.”

They said “on Feb. 17, 2009 some armed men suspected by the Government of Equatorial Guinea to be militants, invaded the Malabo prisons and released four white men imprisoned for alleged involvement in a coup attempt. “Then on Feb. 17, 2009 the Malabo Police descended on innocent Nigerian traders, businessmen, seamen and sailors at the Malabo port and arrested 128 of our members accusing us of being the militants. “The Police shot and killed Mr. Sola Jude and Mrs. Affiong Etim, tortured and maimed our members and 12 died in detention. The victims were detained for three months under severe and inhuman conditions. We lost our boats and rental values of the boats per week.” The angry boat operators who had planned a protest at the Equatorial Guinea Consul in Calabar said, “we lost our merchandise and business profits. We lost our means of livelihood. We lost our humanity and lives. “When they discovered that we were not militants they deported us by air from Malabo airport to Ikeja airport with our pocket empty.” They stated that the money represented the group's “valuation report plus interest for two years at 10 per cent compound interest amounting to 158 million US Dollars as basic compensation including interests.”

According to them, the Equatorial Guinea's Consulate in Nigeria and the people of that country should “pay compensation for our 10 cargo boats, one fishing boat and assorted merchandise in the cargo boats, money and other items.''

They stated that the items were “illegally and unlawfully confiscated” from members of the association “by agents of the Government of Equatorial Guinea” during the attack. According to them, the President Mbasogo Nguema Administration's action on their members on February 17, 2009 constituted an abuse of their dignity and fundamental human rights. They said that Nguema would also pay compensation for the lives of the 18 Nigerians so far killed by the Equatorial Guinea attack of February17, 2009 on the Nigerian businessmen. Available facts showed that to avoid break down of law and order as claimed by the security agents, Cross River Commissioner of Police, Mr. Samson Wudah, on Friday in Calabar stopped the planned demonstration and promised to convey their grievances to the appropriate authorities. May be we should even accuse Equatorial Guinea of cowardice on poor, defenceless black foreigners especially Nigerians, while the real destroyers of their destiny are left untouched even at their own detriment... Well that should be a topic for another day. But the facts remain that Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo must be called to order.

As a concerned Nigerian, I do not expect this petition to be swept under the carpet; rather it should be given due attention, and the interest of Nigerians involved must be protected, also the justice and compensation they seek must not be subverted. It won't be out of order if a committee is set up by Mr President to investigate this condemnable and inhuman treatment on Nigerian citizens, such that full scale investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the death would be established. This is one case too many and we need a holistic look at these incessant cases. The last time it was in Switzerland, the Ambassador apologised and that was the end of it, there were also xenophobic killings of Nigerians in South Africa sometime in 2008. Killings of Nigerians happened in China, Poland, almost everywhere. This is a clarion call to our government at all levels to firmly stand for the protection of Nigerians in the diaspora especially those pursuing their legitimate business not to be allowed to suffer injustice, let alone lost of life. I hope President Goodluck Jonathan will engage the National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odein Ajumogobia, Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), the House Committee on Diaspora, and other stakeholders to seek redress over this disheartening issue so that justice would be done. God bless Nigeria!

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Ajibulu and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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