Monday, October 15, 2007

Nigerians Exit Visas Palavers: Again!

Tuesday, 26 April 2005
Britain has just announced to Nigerians, if you are young and poor, no visa to England! But if you are old, have amassed wealth corruptly, you are always welcomed to Britain?
The air in England is too pure for young and poor Nigerians?

The propaganda for hundreds of years have been, that the United States yearned for the world’s poorest, as immigrants to fill its new citizenship ranks, and similarly, many European countries including England, pretended and laid claim to the gross falsities of being immigrant friendly societies and countries!

Some years ago, I expressed my feelings in an article titled “Nigerians Citizens and Exit Visas”

In it, I discussed the hurdles regarding exit visas sought by multitudes of Nigerians, despite tortuously stringent conditions and rules that were imposed on Nigerians by America and European countries, impossible visa conditions that made it loudly clear to Nigerians, to the effect that America and Europe are not immigrant friendly, despite the claims, false claims made by mostly Americans, and at times by Europeans, for millennia, to the contrary.. Give me your poor- give me your-hungry, and downtrodden? No longer holds? It was never true! Never!

Here we are again, in sorts of de`javu, with the new discriminatory, arbitrary and abrupt visa rules just imposed on a huge segments of Nigerian age-groups by old England, the fabled second home for Nigerians. The fallacy usually parroted, used to be that Britain has a close economic, political and diplomatic relationship with Nigeria, and so, the illogic was that Nigerians are distant cousins of English people, by way of colonial “heritage” so that Nigerians are members of the useless club called “Commonwealth” British Commonwealth, a loose association of former British colonies and protectorates/principalities etc; A lopsided affair that benefits on Britain!

England, like many other countries are fair-weather friends to Nigeria and Nigerians; Fair weather friends leave you stranded, when the money is gone or when the good times are over, and so of course, the time is well past nigh, when Nigerians went to England, as I did decades ago, without a visa, because I was a member of the “British Commonwealth”
Now, of course, Nigerians are too broke to be part of the silly association of former British dominated or invaded and occupied countries?

Nigerians and other members of the so-called British Commonwealth, are just in a marriage of convenience for the British, as it enable them to continue to dominate or control our fortunes and aspirations worldwide, in the former British empire where the fabled sun never set, due to the vastness of British dominion/dominations in different continents and time zones. Commonwealth Club enabled Britain to put strictures on formerly colonized nations; It is perhaps, therefore a mere control tool without benefits!

Britain has the right, I will concede, to regulate the entrance and exit rules for the Island nation and home of over 55 million English citizens, but the choice regarding the demographic comprising the youth in Nigeria, is most arbitrary and unfair, it actually suggests what I have felt all along, regarding public corruption… the collusion and connivance by foreign institutions in America and Europe, without whose help, looting in Nigeria would have been nearly impossible, as there would have been no safe-haven for pilfered monies from public treasuries.

The recent discriminatory visa re-classifications or re-categorizations is as if to announce to young and poor Nigerians that they are poor and not welcomed to England, so, to me, England through its new visa policy, have just informed young and poor Nigerians, please do not come to England if you are not old enough to have had the chance to have corruptly enriched yourself at the expense of Nigeria, you are too poor, too young to come to England! But if you have amassed unconscionable wealth illegally or corruptly, you can come to England at your whim, say, if you are having a birthday party for your girlfriend or your dog? Or you have malaria or you just want to “go and rest”?

Mr. Ebenezer Obadare made the following poignant points in The Guardian Opinion page on Tuesday April 26, 2005….”whip up popular phobia of immigrants (read non-whites) who are variously accused of putting undue pressure on public facilities, taking advantage of the welfare system, failing to imbibe a vaguely defined British way of life, and, if the Daily Mail in particular is to be believed, being responsible for the surge in criminal activity across the isle. “
“These days, every reported case of mugging or stabbing is likely to be seen as further evidence of an immigration/asylum system gone berserk, and the image of the asylum seeker as a potential criminal, free loader, or both, is fairly widespread. Remarkably, these impressions have endured despite convincing arguments from the liberal community that majority of them have no basis in truth, or that contrary to common fears, immigrants actually boost, rather than imperil, the host economy. In many ways, Britain can be said to be merely duplicating the average western European's contemporary unease with the stranger, who is these days most likely to be African, black, poor, young, and desperate.”
“British government's decidedly harsh decision to suspend until next year, visa applications for 18 to 30-year-olds from the country.”

The Nigerian government ought to and should send unmistakable message to the British government and its officials responsible for the new arbitrary, discriminatory and obnoxious visa policy toward a specific demographic group in Nigeria.

Besides, all Nigerians ought to take these diplomatic slaps along with other affronts, committed by foreign countries against our citizens in our hour of need…they are meting out these indignities to Nigerians because our economy is in the doldrums? We must never forget! All these ought to influence our attitude toward the sale of petroleum and other economic dealings or transactions with America and Europe, our actions towards Saudi Arabia, ought also be influenced by these humiliations in the visa valleys of death, even as Saudis have promised to undermine Nigeria’s revenues from petroleum, as the Saudis ignorantly promised to pump more oil, just so, they can please their American friends, even if at Nigeria’s expense and at the expense of all other OPEC members who are uninterested in the idiotic but cozy relationship sought by the Saudis with the Americans. While we have no corresponding control or say in the prices of what we import from America and Europe, such as productive instruments and tools, computers, cars and technologies for petroleum explorations and exploitations!

Why must we allow Saudi Arabia to summarily undermine our national income or revenue? Just because the ignorant royal family of Saudi Arabia chooses to do frequent one-sided favors to the Americans and Europeans, even as they do not care if our young, poor and desperate are alive or dead? The IMF, in the same vein, recently publicly admonished or chastised Nigeria regarding debt cancellations/debt forgiveness, as the IMF promptly and arrogantly informed the world that Nigeria can sustain payments of the billions of dollars in foreign debt, with the so-called windfalls, from increases in prize of crude oil/petroleum from Nigeria.

Why are Nigerians and other Africans willing to be friends of people who are constantly targeting us? Targeting us with these spurious debts, targeting us with exit visas denials or refusals, targeting us with their stereotypical allusion to our assumed criminality and targeting us with their bigotries and racisms!

Some twenty-years ago, The Economist, a newsmagazine published in England, wrote a very derisive and mocking article, about Nigeria, in it, the magazine sarcastically discussed how Nigeria had made money and squandered it like an alcoholic on liquor, and now, Nigeria was sober and the wine merchant had come to collect on their debt for the wines they supplied while Nigerians partied or while the oil-boom lasted. The recent unprecedented visa policy enunciated by the British representative in Nigeria, in rather unapologetic British style, even despite its arbitrariness on its face, the policy is still being pursued.

It should have become more crystal clear to Nigerians, what we as Nigerian individuals, and what Nigerian government should be focusing on, we, citizens and government should rehabilitate Nigeria, just so, that we would not have endure these individual and national indignities, ever again!

The British visa policy toward young and poor Nigerians, has written all over it, economic, class and racial pejoratives and negative innuendoes, unsurpassed, and despite every effort by Britain to mask xenophobia, our pristine examination reveals the irrationalities of the British visa policies toward young and poor Nigerians. This unprecedented arbitrary action against Nigeria is unacceptable!

It is imperative that we right all the wrongs in our country Nigeria, so that, we will never, NEVER again be subject to these sorts of draconian, arbitrary and unprecedented racially motivated visa policies, whether by England or any other country! This is or ought to be a bitter lesson for all Nigerians.

We must remember, it is the economy that Nigerians are fleeing from; Let us put Nigeria first, when Nigeria improves, Nigerians will have no cause to flee Nigerian shores and others will beg us to visit them!

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