These days an increasing number of Nigerians are queuing up to relocate themselves and their families to Europe or America. They shouldn’t be blamed. Emigration from Nigeria appears to be the only hope of living a peaceful life and enjoying the benefits of modern civilisation. In Nigeria, things are indisputably deteriorating on a daily basis as the government presides over a war-torn, environmentally degraded nation, with a collapsed economy. It appears they have no plan other than to borrow endlessly and cling on to power for the benefit of their families, friends and ethnic group.
Their only discernible policy is to suppress public dissent and restrain the media from reporting the mess they have created! Nigeria is going downhill fast and by enacting unjust, inequitable, and provocative laws, those in the dysfunctional National Assembly (NASS) are proving to be catalysts of disaster. Paradoxically, Nigerians who are voting with their feet to leave are from the relatively peaceful Southern region. “Relative peace” in Nigeria means having to face only armed robbers, kidnappers, killer “herdsmen”, ill-disciplined security agents, and political assassins, but not murderous bandits, insurgents or jihadists. “Relative prosperity” means struggling to survive galloping inflation and a worthless currency.
A trending derisive social media post shows the following currency exchange rates: $100=N47,000, €100=N57,000, £100=N67,000, while N100= two wraps of “Santana”! Nigerians who believe their lives will be better in Europe or America aren’t mistaken. They will be paid well and promptly in a currency which has value. However, they should be forewarned about increasingly vocal racism in those societies. Europeans and Americans fully understand that Nigerian immigrants are economic and social refugees who have fled what former US President Donald Trump described as their “sh#t-hole” country where nothing works properly. Local and foreign media reports on Nigeria highlight why Nigerian immigrants are disrespected in their adopted countries.
They are now becoming aware that the citizenship documents they proudly waive come with limitations of institutionalised racism. They are permitted to live there but must be quiet, they can work there but mainly at low paid jobs, they can sit at the table but not speak too loud, they can participate in politics but only as an exception, and they can represent the country in sports but only if they are winners! Nigerians who queue up daily in front of Embassies say they will happily endure racist insults as the price of ensuring the safety of their families and sound education of their children which can no longer be guaranteed in Nigeria. They see little difference between racism overseas and ethnic nepotism at home. They have no pity for Nigerian victims of racism in Europe or America, more especially as so many of them attempt to justify their decision to flee by continuously criticising government from afar, and flooding social media with posts bad-mouthing the country.
They routinely display pictures of the beautiful environments of the nations they reside in, and celebrate themselves for owning a piece of paper which bestows upon them the status of “honorary white man”! Many home-based Nigerians expressed perverse pleasure at racist abuse heaped on England’s Nigerian-British fans after the recently concluded Euro 2020 football tournament. They had joined their white friends to predict that “the cup is coming home”. Locally based fans supporting the Italian team, wondered which “home” they were talking about when the Super Eagles were not playing in the tournament? England lost the final 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out.
Their three missed penalty kicks were taken by players described as “people of color”, a term which absurdly doesn’t include Brazilians or Asians whose skin is noticeably darker than that of many light-skinned players of African descent. It refers specifically to Negroes or “Black” people. They were subjected to the most vile and derogatory racial abuse. In a caricature of the English team’s logo and name “Three Lions”, they were referred to as the “Three Monkeys”! One of them 19-year-old Bukayo Saka, had declined to play for Nigeria, and pledged his future to England. He is not the first to do so. Nobody should accuse him of being unpatriotic. Patriotism is a double-edged sword.
Nigerian international sportsmen and athletes are seldom paid promptly let alone well, and become virtually destitute if they fall ill or are otherwise incapacitated. The last thing Saka expected for pledging his allegiance and positive contributions in getting England to the final was for his “fellow countrymen” to call him a monkey. While the US and many European governments mouth about fighting racism, they can’t live up to the hype and recent events prove that there is still a long way to go.
To be fair, there’s no denying that things are better now than back in 1936 when Adolf Hitler refused to shake the hand of Black-American athlete Jesse Owens after he won four gold medals in the Munich Olympics. Almost every team in Euro 2020 included black players in their squad even the “Fuhrer’s” beloved Germany! Paradoxically, England were one of the few teams that “took a knee” in support of the “Black Lives Matter Movement”. The Italians refused to do so, and won the tournament with a team which didn’t include a single black player. Indeed Mario Balotelli, a black player once selected to play for Italy was routinely taunted by fans chanting “there are no black Italians!” Every Nigerian immigrant is facing a quandary. There is little incentive to return to Nigeria and face untold hardships, yet in light of the realities on ground, they are being told in no uncertain terms that their home isn’t where their hearts are; it’s in Nigeria.
They are faced with a choice of living in a developed well run nation with a racist bias or in an undeveloped nation with little prospects for the future, incompetent governance and ethnic bias. They are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. It’s left for them to decide which is which, and which is preferable!