Thursday 4 July 2013

UK Visa Bond: Nigerians Are The Ultimate Losers

Via - Punch 
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently hinted that his government might consider cutting aid to Nigeria over her anti-gay legislative stance. The news had barely hit the media before Nigerians shrilly reacted to the “blackmail.” Most commentators admittedly did not know what aid the UK was talking about and were too incensed to ask; they just felt the UK could “go to hell”. For their information, the UK aid consists of £102m spent on education in 10 of Nigeria’s 36 states in the past seven years and a projected spending of £126m by 2019. Nigeria is also one of the beneficiaries of an initiative that tackles malaria in Africa with more than an estimated £252m in 2011/12 and a projected £494m in 2014-15. These figures are in the public domain and I have not heard our leaders dispute their veracity.
The same UK has proposed a visa bond of £3000 from certain nations and once again, what? Drama. Unlike foreign aid, this potentially affects almost everyone directly and understandably, the outrage is amplified. Some commentators, like Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, have called for retaliation, stating that the UK citizens coming to Nigeria should be made to pay more. She compared the visa bond to last year’s deportation row with South Africa in which the latter eventually apologised for mistreating Nigerians.

What Dabiri-Erewa and others forget is that South Africa is not the UK. To retaliate a country’s policies, you must have a corresponding amount of power to act. If Nigeria slams a £10,000 visa bond on the UK citizens, what other cards do we have to deal with if the country responds with another policy? Can Nigeria match them discrimination for discrimination, and xenophobia for xenophobia? Do they display as much desperation to come here as we do to their country? How many UK nationals want to visit Nigeria compared to the 180,000 Nigerians that apply to their country? Do they hold “Anointing for Visa” services in their churches like we do here? Do their citizens go to church to “praise God” and testify that they had been offered a visa to abandon their own country? We have been too true to Nietzsche’s observation: no one is such a bold liar as an indignant man.
The solemnity of fact and tact is lost as mass outrage rends the air. The bond is for first time visitors who are deemed high-risk individuals. A choice destination for illegal immigrants, the UK policy when signed into existence –it’s still a plan, any way — aims to contain abuse. The message is: If you want to abscond, you might as well put up a deposit for your repatriation. In our fury, however, we forget that many governments, Nigeria inclusive, are tightening the loopholes of illegal immigration. (On the heels of the incessant terrorist activities in North-East Nigeria, the country’s security agencies rounded up some nationals of Niger and Chad deemed to have entered the country illegally and deported them) My cards tell me that we merely huff and puff; if the bond comes into effect, we will pay. Yes, we all will pay. And that includes the muckraking lawmakers themselves. For a would-be illegal immigrant, £3,000 is just another hurdle to scale to El Dorado. People have paid more to visa touts, so, why won’t they pay the UK?
To be sure, some form of retaliation is proper but the trouble with Nigerians’ reaction is that it obscures serious issues. Rather than ask why things are the way they are, we raise our Black Power fists while chanting the worn mantras of “neo-colonialism,” “imperialism” and the whatnots. Thereby, we let off our leaders gently by dancing to their populist drumming. To be labelled potential illegal immigrants demands deeper introspection than fuming. It neither resolves the smearing itself nor changes the fact that international insurance companies already classify Nigeria as “high security risk” and “extreme medical risk.”
Did the Nigerian drama queens and kings who want blood read the recent report of a 19-year-old woman,  May Brown, who drugged herself into a coma to avoid deportation from the UK, claiming death awaits her back home in Nigeria? Did they see the video of a certain Okpegwa Benson caught with forged documents at a UK airport and then resorted to the most self-denigrating act in an effort to convince immigration officials not to deport him? There are lots of stories of Nigerians desperate to migrate, what do we do about them instead of resorting to the very easy non-solution that merely counteracts the UK?

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