I WAS taken aback by images
screening on BBC News of riot
police smashing a glass door to gain
access into one of the venues being
used for the referendum by Catalan
separatists in Spain. The harsh clamp
down on the exercise is no doubt a
reaction to the Spanish government
describing the referendum, which
Catalonians hope to use to declare
independence, as illegal.
If video clips of the riot police
smashing doors were jolting, the
scenes on the streets were even more
shocking. Security forces deployed
maximum force in repressing
protesters in a manner that made
the combined approach of Nigeria’s
military and security forces appear
like the disposition of crèche staffers. Those that opposed the police efforts to
stop the referendum were clobbered,
hurled to the ground and peppered
with rubber bullets.
To achieve the ultimate objective of
these actions, the police were reported
to have carted the ballot away,
effectively raising questions about the
integrity of any outcome announced
for the referendum. This tallies with
Spain’s desire to stick to the current
arrangement where its constitution
does not recognise secession rights
for Catalonia, a wealthy region of 7.5
million people in north-eastern Spain.
The clamp down on the “illegal”
referendum came at a time when
a vocal minority from south-east
Nigeria are, like broken records,
chanting “referendum or death” or
“no referendum no election” in their
Oladipupo, an engineering graduate
student in Philippines was said to
have disappeared without a trace. His
lifeless body was later found in another
city a few kilometers from Manila.
Godspower Okirie, who hailed from
Rivers State, was brutally murdered in
Sampaloc, a neighborhood of Manila
City, Philippines.
Another popular case was that of
Stephen Lawrence, the Nigerian boy
who was murdered by some white
racist gang in the United Kingdom.
Each time I get to read about the
plight of Nigerians in foreign lands, I
feel greatly saddened, depressed and
perturbed that my fellow country men
and women suffer endlessly and are
simply marked-down for offences they
really knew nothing about. Regrettably,
the government appeared not to have
done much in protecting its citizens
from such dangers in foreign lands.
This posturing is both unacceptable
and indefensible. The Chairman,
House of Representatives’ Committee
on Diaspora Matters, Representative
Rita Orji, has condemned the alleged
lackadaisical attitude of the Federal
Government towards the protection
of Nigerians outside the country,
describing it as a ‘conspiracy of silence’.
Although, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama as well as
the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdul-
Rahaman Dambazau (rtd) recently
visited South Africa to hold talks with
officials of the country. The talks were
aimed at seeking permanent solution
to the crisis with the establishment of
an Early Warning Unit (EWU), meant
to curb all forms of violence.
Similarly, the Senior Special Assistant
to the President on Foreign Affairs and
Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa,
has enjoined the African Union and
the South African government to take
decisive steps to protect Nigerians
misplaced quest to revive a defunct
republic of Biafra, the cause of a civil
war five decades ago. In recent months
the rabble agitating for the breakup of
Nigeria has fallen under the control of
Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, now
officially designated as a terror group.
IPoB of course hinges its ridiculous
for a referendum, not recognized by
any Nigerian law, on some nebulous
international instruments, the relevant
sections or specific documents have
never been cited. Its propaganda
includes inviting the European Union,
United Kingdom and United States to
meddle in Nigeria’s internal affairs.
Interestingly, Spain is a visible
member nation of the EU. The EU has
maintained a stoic silence even when
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont
has repeatedly appealed to the EU to
intervene. The bloc’s position is that
while the Chairman, Senate Committee
on Foreign Affairs, Sen. Monsurat
Sunmonu had earlier summoned
Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South
Africa over the matter. A lot still needs
to be done. It is sad that fellow citizens
have left the country with great hopes,
having been frustrated by lack of jobs at
home. For many, it had been a lifelong
desire and nothing else mattered to
them until they eventually made their
way abroad. Not a few of them took
loans, sold houses, cars, left lucrative
jobs and even threw a lavish send-forth
party before embarking on the search
for the Golden Fleece.
Maltreatment of Nigerians abroad
stems from unnecessary persecutions,
poor legal representation, false
accusations, harassment and other
forms of racial abuses. In many cases,
these unfortunate citizens receive little
assistance or protection from Nigerian
embassies and High commissions. For
instance, many Nigerians often wait in
frustration for several months without
succeeding in getting their passports
renewed. During this period, they are
forced to live like fugitives while some
end up being arrested and deported.
The main excuse by our embassies
is that of shortage of machines that
could produce the required passports.
The way Nigerians are continually
being treated abroad does not give
the impression of any lasting solution
in sight. This is at variance with what
obtains in any serious nation worth
dying for. As a way forward, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs should
publish travel advisories with updated
information. This becomes handy in
the sense that some Nigerians do not
really know what to expect in foreign
countries.
The detailed information contained
in the publication would provide
vital enlightenment and security
Catalan’s breakaway bid and Spain’s
tough stance against it are internal
affairs of that country, in which it
would not interfere. United Kingdom
has also been decadently silent while
US President Donald Trump was
categorical in declaring that his country
is opposed to Catalan’s independence
bid, which he described as “foolish”..
One is therefore at a loss as to
why even those who lay claim to a
sophisticated level of education from
the south-east of Nigeria are counting
on these same countries and the EU to
help achieve in Nigeria what they are
opposed to in Spain. It is confounding
that Nigeria’s pro-separatist rabble
does not see themselves as willingly
handing their country over for recolonization
by their very demand
for intervention from people who
are loathe accepting what is being
tips. The ministry should take
up the case of every Nigerian
illegally killed or harassed in
South Africa and other nations in
local courts for prosecution. The
Nigerian Bar Association should
urgently intervene in this regard
by collaborating with government.
Furthermore, the Big Brother policy
of Nigerian diplomacy should be
critically reviewed because it seems
not sustainable under the current
dispensation, as the nation has not
benefitted much from such, going
by the South Africans experience
despite the prominent role played
by Nigeria in its liberation from
apartheid. Currently, South Africa
has many thriving investments in
Nigeria that churn out hundreds of
billions of Naira in annual profits.
Is this what Nigeria should get
in return? Despite the harshness,
provocation and acts of wickedness,
Nigerians abroad should desist from
taking laws into their hands through
reprisal attack, as extrajudicial killing
or jungle justice is totally wrong.
On a final note, there is the
patriotic need for all to deeply reflect
on the state of our nation and tame
the monster that drives people away.
The rate of unemployment is daily
skyrocketing, insecurity abounds
and the cost of living is intolerably
expensive while access to basic
social infrastructure continues to be
out of the reach of the common man.
Addressing these should be the top
priority of government. For now,
Nigerians living in the Diaspora,
who have nothing tangible doing
should to return home rather than
remaining there and being killed
mercilessly. Afterall, there is really
nothing like home!
Kupoluyi writes from Federal
University of Agriculture, Abeokuta
(FUNAAB),[email protected]
yahoo.co.uk,@AdewaleKupoluyi
requested for their own selves.
More instructive is that the
Catalonians have not threatened war
crime charges at the International
Criminal Court against the riot
police that have violently disrupted
their referendum the same way IPoB
and other Biafra separatist groups
always threaten the Nigerian Army
and the police. The Catalonians
definitely know the remit and limits
of international organizations.
Even though Catalan has its
distinct language, culture and
economy within its geographical
space in Spain it has not misled
its pro-independence followers
with lies that they are “indigenous
people” with special rights that make
attacking troops commonplace.

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