Early last week a viral video of Nigerians allegedly chased into the desert of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, UAE, was the talk of the town and the social media.
To underscore the fact that the predicament affected Nigerians across ethnic and religious identities, the narrative in the video was done in the three major Nigerian languages of Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. They complained that they were “chased” from the International Humanitarian City into the Dubai desert though they had Dubai visa. They complained of having been in the desert for six days without shelter, food or water. However, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, Chairman, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, reacted swiftly on her confirmed Twitter account saying that these were the Nigerians who refused to avail themselves of the opportunity to return to Nigeria. The UAE government had given illegal immigrants between March 1 and August 17, 2020 to leave the country. They were even offered free flights. Only 179 persons took up the offer and returned. According to Dabiri-Erewa: “They’ve been returning, but some are still bent on hiding and breaking the laws. You shouldn’t stay illegally anywhere”. While we complain about the maltreatment that Nigerians are subjected to in foreign lands, especially South Africa, Ghana, Libya, Kenya and South East Asia, we should also bear in mind that some of these economic migrants are troublemakers. Most of them are staying illegally and breaking the laws of their host countries.
No country takes kindly to that except, perhaps, Nigeria which is lackadaisical about the need for proper handling of governance in the interest of our country. While many Nigerians legally residing in foreign countries have brought us pride and honour through their academic and professional achievements, the economic desperadoes among them have continued to soil our image through acts of gross indiscipline, crime and anti-social behaviours which specifically stand them out as Nigerians. Most of these Nigerians are the architects of their woes. They prefer to remain in these hostile foreign lands where they are hunted like animals rather than come back home and start a new life. Though Nigerian embassies and high commissions hardly earn their relevance in the affairs of Nigerians living abroad, the involvement of the NIDCOM in this regard has helped to, at least, give our diaspora compatriots a place to call when in distress. Nigeria has failed its citizens. That much is evident in the preference of some of our people to live subhuman lives in other people’s countries. Until we discover the leadership that will activate the vast potentials of Nigeria to give our people the opportunities to live and thrive at home, our people will continue to suffer in foreign lands.