Tuesday Column by VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
firstname.lastname@example.org | 08033077519
Even as I write this piece one can bet that yet another batch evacuees from Libya are on their way home after a failed but desperate bid to escape to the much sought after Europe, rescued by the international organisation for migration. And as I pen this one can bet again that an international rescue ship owned or chartered by international humanitarian nongovernmental organisations filled with hundreds of haggard-looking Africans including Nigerians is roving about on the high sea searching and making passionate appeal to any European nation for permission to anchor and camp them as refugees. Even as I write this, it is not unlikely that yet another dozens and dozens of African migrants are drowning on the Mediterranean seas after capsizing of their rickety, overloaded boats attempting to ferry them over to the nearest European city off northern Africa. As I write this tens of Nigerian cum African migrants are being buried alive by the desert sand dunes as they attempt the daring walk across the Sahara desert to Europe.
Countless are the number of Nigerians and other Africans that have lost their lives in their desperate but risky journey to escape overseas. In spite of these rather horrifying pictures, many Nigerians and Africans are still willing to follow these same routes, literally to risk everything to set foot on European and American soil. And when you consider the type of stories these emigrants from our lands spin in order to curry favour/ sympathy and be allowed to stay in those countries as asylum seekers you would wonder whether to laugh or lament. They allege that they are running away from political and religious persecutions, economic deprivation and social trauma among others, as for example being subjected to female genital mutilation; that is the oyibo’s phrase for female circumcision. They are sympathetic to such ‘victims’, the word ‘mutilation’ conveying it all to them. Soon perhaps some may claim subjugation to tribal mark incision as a reason for fleeing abroad; after all, the Europeans would term it ‘facial mutilation’.
The Boko Haram insurgency and the herdsmen/farmers crises have provided an alibi for those seeking asylum abroad, to plead the wrong but popular narrative that they are facing “religious and ethnic genocide”. It is true that the western world appear to have a soft spot for ethnic minorities and would push for their preservation; but let us be honest the Boko Haram and pastoralists/farmers crises is not about uprooting a particular religion per se; it is impossible to totally wipe off any certain religion I believe. Some fraudsters (419 people as we call them here) are taking advantage of these crises to deceive those whose countries they are migrating to by feigning for example, that they are one of the abducted schoolgirls in north eastern Nigeria who escaped on their own from the Boko Haram captives, etc. We cannot speak of political persecution in Nigeria because truly speaking we have not descended to banana republic yet. With Donald Trump’s tough immigration policy which has seen near discarding of the liberal America visa lottery programme, Nigerians and other Africans apart from Europe are also setting their sights to other countries as Canada, Australia and rich Arab countries like Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and even Saudi Arabia.
And what are all those rushing abroad at all costs through legal and illegal means looking for? The mighty dollar, euro, pounds and other foreign currencies. In this they are prepared to do any sort of menial, undignified or self-degrading job to earn it, including prostitution. The complaint is that jobs are hard to come by in Nigeria, even menial ones, that the naira is of little value because even with tonnes of it you cannot buy much with it because of inflation and its depreciating value in relation to the world’s international currencies. “Overseas as a dish washer or toilet cleaner, your salary even though it looks small compared to what people in higher paying jobs are getting, it translates to huge amounts of naira because one dollar is times four of one naira, so you can always make it there within a short time”, so goes the sing song. For the average Nigerian, making it means becoming a millionaire, a moneybag. For most Nigerians, Africans and people in developing countries, that is their number one goal for which they are prepared to risk anything and everything.
But is living in countries far away from one’s homeland, in another continent the best? In the wise order of the Creator, the weather, farm produce and so on and so forth in each region of the world is conditioned to the natives there. They provide the best soil for the development and maintenance the natives. It goes without saying that consumption of foods that are wholly produced in other continents is not best for us. For example consuming rice that is produced in America or Thailand is of little value to our body/health. Only that produced in our part of the world/region is best suited for us and will give us the greatest benefit/nutrient. One can give multiple other examples but the bottom line is that in everything pertaining to our health and development we should always prefer and go for those that are gotten from our region where we were born.
Those who travel to far countries for the first time may notice that they fall sick soon after arrival, the body is trying to adapt to the new radiations brought about by the fact that the weather, foods, etc., there are alien to it. Home sickness sets in. The body does seeming adapt after a long while. But such persons cannot live in such far flung countries permanently without dire health consequences. He/she has to come home once in a while to absorb that peculiar radiation arising from the soil of his/her native land and everything connected thereto which are exactly suited to us. Sojourning abroad should be temporary. Still our governments and leaders should endeavour to create conditions that would make it possible for their citizens to develop their full potentials in happiness in their native countries.