The Plight of Nigerians in the Diaspora is Deplorable, Downright Pathetic As Subsequent Nigerian Governments Have not cared for the Citizens.
The plight of Nigerians in the Diaspora is very deplorable and downright pathetic by the treatment given to them by their Nigerian Government, Nigeria's representatives in Embassies and Consulates all over the world. It is important to bring to the immediate attention of Mr. President that since after the Nigerian Civil war in 1970, subsequent Nigerian governments in power have never cared about, and regarded the Nigerian Citizens abroad, otherwise popularly known as “Nigerians in Diaspora “as important citizens of the nation to reckon with.
Nigerian citizens in the millions are currently abroad. According to the World Bank's released financial figures and database, “Nigerians abroad remitted more than $10 Billion Dollars in 2009” (and have the potential to yet raise and remit upwards of $100 billion per annum!) Altogether, this amount roughly came to more than 61% of Nigeria's proposed N2.46 trillion Naira budget in 2010. In fact without the World Bank's record book and tracking systems, Nigeria would never know the worth of her Citizens in Diaspora in Dollar value!
Mr. President common sense warrants that an individual, or a group or an organization thereof, contributing 61% of a nation's national budget should be held at high esteem and attention, paid to. But that's not the case with the plight of Nigerians abroad and the way the Nigerian government operates and does business.
There is no evidence to indicate that the Nigerian government has any knowledge or comprehensive record of the number and names of her citizens scattered abroad. It is the fundamental responsibility of any responsible government to have an up to date knowledge of the number of her citizens outside of the country at any given point in time; but not the case with Nigeria. Take for instance, the United States of America, Britain, France, Israel, Germany, Russia, and China, Canada to mention but these. These nations, through their respective Embassies and Consulates, at any point in time, have up-to-date-knowledge of the number of their citizens in foreign lands. They know each citizen by name, address, State of origin, reason for being outside the country, their jobs outside the country down to the names and numbers and date of birth of new born babies to their citizens. They know these because back home, there exists some sort of law requiring their governments to take care of their citizens outside the four walls of their nations.
Nigeria is the only exception. Nigeria is the only country that does not CARE ABOUT HER CITZENS Abroad, does not know how many of her citizens left the country in a day, does not know their destinations, reasons for their leaving the country, what they studied in school, what jobs they hold, how many new born babies to them there are, who died, who is alive, what plight they do go through in their foreign-adopted homes etc, etc, etc. Only in Nigeria!
Mr. President, your Nigerian governments (past and present) have thus far rejected and neglect the myriads of her citizens in foreign lands and now is the time for you to reverse this negative and unfortunate trend through better Diaspora public policies, Executive Orders that will immediately begin to positively impact the Citizens in Diaspora. What the Nigerian Government have seen among her citizens in Diaspora, the BEST EDUCATED AND TRAINED anywhere in the world and REJECTS, the other more and better enlightened foreign nations have seen and embraced. Yes, that's we, in the Diaspora- in foreign lands!!
In the past 50 years, the subsequent Nigerian administrations before Jonathan's did not find it worthwhile paying attention to and caring about her millions of best qualified HUMAN CAPITAL RESOURCES abroad. However, our respective host countries such as the USA, Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium, China, Japan and other European and Far Eastern nations have discovered the “Golden gem” in Nigerians in Diaspora and are feeding fat on their discovery. A discovery, we might add, Nigeria, our own mother land and government have failed to discover and take advantage of. And a discovery that has the potential to net Nigeria $100 billion, a year! Now tell me, what kind of country that would see an offer or deal of $100 billion a year and still refuses to take advantage of that offer but Nigeria? This shows you nothing but the absence of any effective leadership in the country.
Mr. President, here are a few lists of the known plights of Nigerians in Diaspora – cases in which the Nigerian Embassy and Consulate representatives should have been in the forefront defending her citizens but they cared less and have been caring less in the past 50 years and more, as if we, in Diaspora, do not mater an iota in the affairs of Nigeria.
In the 80's there were cases of Nigerians killed in Texas and the government of Nigeria showed no interest at all. Many-a-Nigerian citizens have come across on the rough side of the law with our host governments and in each instance, the Nigerian Embassies, Consulates and representatives never showed any significant interest – practically and literarily telling Nigerians in Diaspora, “YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!” To this government's action toward its citizens, I say: Nigeria we hail thee! Nigerians daily face Immigration, financial, various health and family problems in the host countries, the nature of which should warrant government intervention, yet our Embassies and Consular representatives do not care a hoot. Yet the Nigerian government pays them humongous fat salaries in US Dollars - to serve and protect the Nigerian citizens – which citizens turns out to be unimportant to them.
It's a hassle and in some cases, outright difficulty for Nigerians to obtain simple information from the various Nigerian Embassies and Consulates. To return phone call messages left by Nigerian Citizens to various Embassies and Consulates is a tug of war. Renewal of passports which should be a simple matter of inserting the necessary documents and fees in the mail and send to the Embassy is made a difficult venture that many a times has prevented many Nigerians from travelling at the appropriate time when their flights were booked. Visiting any Nigerian Embassy or Consulate to transact any business has always been a nightmare to Nigerian citizens due to the in attention paid to their needs and the uncooperative attitude meted out to them by their so called Nigerian representative Consular and Embassy officials. One of the most annoying aspects of treating Nigerians in Diaspora by the Embassy/Consular representatives is the rudeness, the demand for cash money (bribe in the U.S.A before services can be rendered! ;)the preferential treatment given to the white person in service and serving the Nigerian citizen last – a stark opposite of what any of these host advanced countries would naturally do to their own citizens. Ever notice in Nigerian Embassies that their paid Computer Experts are Koreans, Chinese etc in preference to fellow Nigerian citizens who are in most instances, adepts and more expert than those they engage in servicing our national computers warehousing our national strategic information – and by so doing giving them free access to national information that can compromise our national security on w a whim? Isn't this practice annoying and smacks of inadequate and ineffective leadership? If it doesn't, I wonder what else does.
In 2009 or there about, during the time of President Yar'Adua, there was a case in point where one Embassy official circulated a policy that attempted to or actually denied the renewal of passports to certain slated class of Nigerians in Diaspora. Although by October 14 of 2009 Yar'Adua had rescinded that policy that was a typical example of the sorry plight of Nigerians in Diaspora. Another unreasonable example of the plight of Nigerians in Diaspora is the continued denial by each succeeding Nigerian government of the Right of Nigerians in Diaspora to cast their votes during national or State run elections to fulfill part of their fundamental civic responsibilities. Now is the time to restore that right. 2015 general election is the testing year! We will be watching how this goes.
Mr. President, there are millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora and they deserve to be heard and given a chance to vote in national elections. Nigerians in Diaspora demand that the 2015 National Election have adequate arrangements made, to make it possible for Nigerians in Diaspora to perform one of their civic rights – by making it possible for them to vote electronically, from whichever part of the world they are, come 2015! Not only this, Nigerians in Diaspora, majority of whom are consultants, experts, professionals in their chosen fields and disciplines deserve a chance to participate in the national government of Nigeria and State governments of the day. We demand that about 3.00%- 7.00% of all National/Federal and State Government positions be reserved for Nigerians in the Diaspora as a way of weaning us home so that we can happily return home and contribute toward the development and industrialization of our motherland. If we cannot serve our country now when else, and if not the best core of the cream in Diaspora, who else? Mr. President, make this happen!!
In conclusion, the plight of Nigerians in the Diaspora is very deplorable and downright pathetic by the treatment given to them by their Nigerian Government and Nigeria's representatives in Embassies and Consulates all over the world. Mr. President, you have a golden opportunity to re-write history and make this a thing of the past. Beginning with your Administration, it's past time Nigerian governments recognized the worth and importance of her well educated, trained and respected citizens in Diaspora. Nigeria's Embassies and Consular representatives need to undergo massive Citizen-relations-education and training to enable cohesive existence and proper rendering of professional services to the citizens they are representing. Mr. President, kindly see to it that any wayward representative not about to discharge the call of his or her foreign duties, should be recalled with immediate effect and by any means necessary.
Dr. Onyema G. Nkwocha
November 25, 2011