Nigerian Citizens And Exit Visas
Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
I have read many news reports and commentary articles in connections with the gory details that are the fait accompli of any Nigerian citizen seeking exit visas from a majority of the embassies or foreign missions that are in Nigeria, visas to enable these Nigerians travel for business or pleasure or to attend school or live outside Nigeria
Each time, the tales are unusually saddening and disheartening. I have however, recently started to have some ambivalence in my reaction to the pains and indignities that Nigerians are compelled to face on our home soil! What is the source of the maltreatment? Has some Nigerians played any roles in all these? What do we do now?
First, it is agonizingly offensive just reading about the disrespectful manner in which Nigerians are maltreated by these countries, these diplomats who are on our soil in the name of friendship and international cooperation and yet they appear to have labeled all Nigerians as everything but honorable? As all Nigerians seeking visas under suspicion?
I have, on several occasions recently, recounted how despondent I get, when I read stories of Nigerians dying in desolate deserts or in frigid ocean waters, in their frequent attempts to escape the abject economic and political circumstances that is have been pervasive in Nigeria; The Nigerians who resort to these attempt to emigrate illegally through the deserts and the oceans, do so as last resort, mostly after they have been denied exit visas and every appeal and legitimate processes have been exhausted.
In the past therefore, I have severally appealed to the Nigerian leadership class to take the bull by its horns and to promptly and urgently do everything possible, in order to curb the prevailing abject and dire circumstances in Nigeria, which has turned emigrating out of Nigeria into a life and death situation without real alternatives or other choices.
Desperations, that has led some Nigerians to take the extreme measure of illegally emigrating out of Nigeria through these arduous and treacherous desert trek and hike and the death defying and fool hardiness of crossing the turbulent oceans, the poverty of circumstances in Nigeria, must be addressed primarily by the leadership class, at all levels of government in Nigeria, from the local government leaders to the presidency.
Now, having addressed the roles played by foreign embassies regarding the unreasonable rules and the arbitrariness of the exit visa requirements, that they imposed on Nigerians, and having also stated the urgency with which the leadership in Nigeria from all local to state and federal governments must create conducive atmosphere all over Nigeria, as a cure for the desperations, that leads to these extreme consequences of compelled emigration; I must now also address another contributing factor or element in all these.
Professor Osofisan recently wrote about the outgoing US ambassador to Nigeria, Howard Jeter, Professor Osofisan appear to have had a conundrum and dilemma with appraising this particular ambassador and his performance during his tour of duty in Nigeria, particularly, viewed against the backdrop of the inhuman conditions and the total disrespect and indignities that the US embassy and others in Nigeria, now subject Nigerians to, when Nigerians seek exit visas.
Professor Osofisan, and many other Nigerians are clearly touched by the daily revelations of inhuman treatments and drudgeries that Nigerians now face and have been facing as they seek visas out of Nigeria, for business, pleasure or educational pursuits.
As we take a deem view of the inadequacies of the different strata of government at home, the abject and dire circumstances and situations at home, which has led to the uncontrollable out-flux and emigration of Nigerians and even as we condemn the condescension of these foreign embassies and diplomatic outposts towards citizens of Nigeria, who seek permissions to enter foreign countries represented by these embassies/diplomatic outposts, we must examine an additional factor, some Nigerians.
As an additional factor that Nigerians must be willing to examine are the some Nigerians themselves. The ordinary Nigerian that is not in the leadership class or responsible for the ruination of the economy or polity in Nigeria; But who has played some roles in how Nigeria and Nigerians are perceived outside of Nigeria, by non-Nigerians
Since the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web of information communication, in the information superhighway of electronic age Information Technology, it is the case that many Nigerian newspapers and magazines and internet web pages have become a common feature, in the global communication village of the new age; for good and bad.
The new democratization of information has led to unimaginable disadvantage for Nigeria, because of the penchant of some Nigerians to misuse and abuse this new information dissemination medium, everyday, my visit to Nigeria related web sites reveal and reinforces what most Nigerians and others, are already tired of! Negative news and negative portrayals of Nigeria and Africa!
Ten years ago, most of us blamed the American, European or the Western Press for having a stereo typical views about Nigerians and all other Africans, this was due to the double standard and selective presentations made of events that occurred in all of Africa and disparities in news reporting and the patronizing attitude that allowed non-Africans to present everything Africa in jaundiced manners, some of us actually went as far as to describe such attitude as racially motivated, hence racist!
These days however, it is the case, that Nigerians are doing the dirty and thankless job of portraying Nigeria and Nigerians in the most unflattering manner! In the most egregious and offensive portrayal, in the most putrid and odious language, in the most vile and brutal of language and in the most-stark of bad light presentations, that is worse than what anyone have ever seen!
How then can we blame the government or leadership class and the diplomats representing their various countries? When as they often do now, these diplomats are clearly averse to allowing the scourge of the earth exit visas to enter the diplomats’ home countries? Who wants damaged goods? Or warped, twisted immigrants in their countries?
Nigerians should for one minute, play the devil’s advocate, Nigerians should put themselves in the shoes of these diplomats and ask themselves, as I ask myself, "Whether I Allow A Nigerian" enter my country? If I were not a Nigerian, and I have frequently read about the current president of Nigeria, who is frequently described by his fellow Nigerians as everything worse than Hitler of Germany and Mussolini of Italy combined, I and read about other politicians in Nigeria who are portrayed as not markedly different from the president in crookedness and wickedness, then, I read about businessmen and fraudsters? Why should anyone accept us? When we are frequently portrayed as rotten?
Furthermore, I read that the lawlessness in Afghanistan and Iraq combined, are mere child’s play compared with the anarchy and lawlessness and absolute bastardizations of law and order, rules and regulations, which are observed only in the breach in Nigeria? The Nigeria where nothing works, not the police, not electricity, not the garbage collection or traffic lights, Nigeria that is a failed state, Nigeria that is not redeemable etc?
Why should any ambassador or diplomat be interested in allowing into their home countries, Nigerians, the most wicked, the most debased, the most immoral, the most corrupt of the human species that have ever stalk the earth? Why would anyone who are unlike these Nigerians? Who allow the worse of everything to occur in Nigeria to visit or let alone, live in their countries? If I were a diplomat, would I have allowed anyone fitting the self-descriptions and labels that some Nigerians are so quick to impose on themselves, the Nigerian leadership and Nigeria as our nation, to visit my country or emigrate to corrupt and pollute my country? Or to do to my country what Nigerians have done to themselves and Nigeria? Why should any country want us, after we say we are the worst? Which Nigerian that you have read about today, would you happily embrace?
Some Nigerians are so self-maligning, self-impugning and self-deprecating in the most negative and perverse of senses, to the extent that the only surprise at all, is that some countries still grant visas to Nigerians!
Some Nigerians describe other Nigerians and Nigeria in the most hyperbolic terms, in the most twisted and warped personification! This has led me in the past to write that, some Nigerians are the worst enemies of other Nigerians and the worst demon that Nigeria must face in order to make progress, Nigeria is not perfect, Nigeria is what is ours!
Most Nigerians need lessons in how the world works! Nigerians need lessons in self-definitions and self-assertions! Nigerians need to criticize Nigeria’s leadership and the imperfections and flaws that exists in Nigeria, but in doing so, it must be borne in mind, that Nigeria is like our mother, our mother remains the best cook in the world, even after we have sampled all the gourmet entrees prepared by the best cook from all cultures and from five star hotels! When are Nigerians going to learn about public relations and image enhancements? When are we going to promote everything good about Nigeria?
When are we going to write or sing about things Nigerian and Nigeria, we should think of it as writing about our mother, our family or even ourselves, and then use some discretion and reserve and good judgment; We should think of the consequences and our permanent interests in what happens to Nigeria and what becomes of Nigeria, we should be circumspect in our roles.
Nigeria is our mother, we may disagree with our mother as it sometimes happens all over the world, but we must continue to demonstrate respect for our mother, we must not strip our mothers of dignities and respects, we must desist from ridiculing our mother, we must not denigrate and disparage our mother in the name of criticisms.
Constructive criticism has its place! But destructive and self-defeating castigations and ridiculing Nigerians, Nigeria, are shoot-yourself-in-the-foot undertakings!
It must be said, that it is easier to conquer poverty than to overcome ridicules and years of denigrations, money or wealth for individuals as money or wealth for nations is fluid, money or wealth is no respecter of persons, age, color, religion or regions, money and wealth are no respecter of nations, any person or nation can accumulate wealth.
Any person can also attain literacy or level of education, in other words, a lack of wealth and a lack of education are easier to overcome or solve, than a lack of respect or a lack of dignity.
Africans and peoples of African descent have been ridiculed historically by non-Africans, from slavery to colonialism and by the Tarzan movie portrayal of Africans, Africans and peoples of African descent have not recovered from these ravages and vicissitudes of human history, as it applies to us Africans; Unfortunately, it now appears, that the Nigerian, instead of being the leader of the pack, is restoring dignity and respect for Africans and peoples of African descent? Some Nigerians have taken over the lampooning and continued denigration of our race?
Have we internalized these historical oppressions? Have we started to do such "a good job" of ridiculing ourselves? So much so, that detractors from the outside need not now worry about continuing their efforts of ridiculing us and engaging in negative portrayal of us? When are Nigerians going to sing the best songs about Nigeria or write the best books about Nigeria? When are the conditions going to be right and perfect for that to happen?
How can some Nigerians continue to announce to the entire world on a daily basis, that we are the worst cooks in the world and these same Nigerians are aghast when nobody wants to taste our food for free, let alone, buy our food? Image is everything! How can we continue to work 25 hours out of the usual 24 hours of a natural day, putting our best efforts in portraying Nigeria as the wretched of the earth, the scum, the wicked and most vile and lawless? And then we want tourists to come to Nigeria? We want investors to come to Nigeria and on top all that, we want to export our vermin infested Nigerian to other countries? But we are surprised that there are no takers? Why should any non-Nigerian want to meet and embrace the sorts of Nigerians that some Nigerians portray to the whole world everyday as worse than rotten?
Nigerians should not treat Nigeria as rag and become offended at others using the designated rag to wipe dirt and dust off their shoes. Nigerians must love Nigeria first and others will emulate us.
Paul I. Adujie is a Nigerian Lawyer and an Information Technology Professional.