Admittedly, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri, has had a lot to deal with of late. So much that one begins to wonder what the role of the Foreign Ministry is again. She is often now being called to step in to salvage matters which normally the Nigerian embassies in various countries should have responded to. From issues bothering on theft, assault, drug trafficking, to attacks on Nigerians abroad, Abike’s plate has been full. She has tried, perhaps, her possible best to wade into controversial foreign matters, even if without much diplomacy involved. However, all these unfortunate incidents concerning Nigerians abroad might, after all, be more indicative of a current wave of Nigerian desperation than the subject of xenophobia against Nigerians itself.
In April, a young lady was arrested by Saudi law enforcement authorities when they found contraband drugs in her box at their airport, allegedly smuggled into her box without her knowledge. She was lucky to escape capital punishment and return home because it allegedly took the President himself to plead on her behalf.
Just a few weeks before the Saudi incident, a group of five Nigerians were caught on camera burgling a store in Dubai, U.A.E. They were sentenced to death as their own motive was clear enough – no one could plead on their behalf.
Just last week, it was reported that a series of fatal xenophobic attacks on Nigerians were committed by Ghanaians and the Togolese in their respective countries. Some Nigerians had to leave their businesses and engagements and flee back to the safety of Nigeria when the attacks heated up. In fact, such attacks are so commonplace in South Africa, the purported Rainbow Nation, in which Nigerians who live there have learnt to cope with the constant fear and paranoia of being attacked. There is only a little that a foreign office or Special Assistant or even the Ambassador can achieve once Nigerians have been murdered in foreign countries except to demand for explanations from the host country as to what went wrong. Nigeria is altogether too weak to threaten any country with sanctions, who treat badly her citizens.
All these show one thing – Nigerians who are in the diaspora are now totally at the mercy of their host countries. In a bid to escape the hell at home, they hustle to get visas to countries with unfavourable living conditions and they sometimes don’t mind because they they are treated even worse back home.
If Nigerians treat their own citizens right, the young man who broke a couple of car windscreens at the Nigerian High Commission in London in annoyance when he failed to obtain his promised passport would not have had to take the situation into his own hands. If the government and people of Nigeria will not treat a fellow Nigerian with dignity, how dare we expect a better treatment from citizens of other countries in the first place?
So the thing with these incessant and growing attacks is, it is not by reacting to cases of maltreatment or attacks on Nigerians alone that will solve the problem. We as a nation have to look inwards and examine how we have contributed negatively as a society to the feeling of tension which has risen against Nigerians.
Perhaps Nigerians are getting more desperate to make it outside the shores of the country and come back home to gloat and boast of their plunder, we may never know. It is even possible and commonsense to suggest that if our government treats us better home and abroad, other citizens of host countries will also begin to have a modicum of will to treat us more with the decency that every human deserves, irrespective of identity.
Featured image source: commsmea.com