mercoledì 19 marzo 2008

Condemned to unfaithfulness, divorce,............

Most of us in this forum were already outside Nigeria in the era when being a Nigerian was like a synonymous of being intelligent, wise, well-to-do and above all, possessing the moral ethics worthy of representing our country and her citizens in any context, whatsoever. Those in this country, Italy, were highly respected by the citizens and the authorities, who were very careful not to offend a Nigerian, unlawfully, to avoid the usual authoritative and prompt intervention of our Embassy. There was this kind of guarantee for a fair treatment for those who broke the law and an absolute protection for the exemplary ones.
Along the way, this remarkable identity was strongly subjected to serious doubts because of questionable behaviors arising from some (very few) of our people: falsification and forgery, drug peddling and trafficking, prostitution and some other little crimes. These crimes were, of course, not monopolized by Nigerian immigrants alone, but they had a particular notoriousness as regards to other African immigrants of that time, an so were considered mainly Nigerian crimes. The oil-boom was no more and money was no longer remitted from home, students were in economic crises and that gave way for a generalization of the new “outlaw identity” attributed to every Nigerian then, and maybe up till today in many sectors. In fact, a lot of innocent Nigerians were unlawfully punished for the crimes and suspected crimes where other Nigerians were involved. As a Nigerian, the words from your mouth were already condemned even before you pronounced them, your passport and other documentation were considered fake even before they were presented to the unwelcoming operator on service. I remember some people who said things like: “Since they will consider my genuine papers to be fake, maybe they will consider the fake ones to be otherwise..” A good percentage of them – wrongly - became forgers when this abstract logic worked-out for them.
Anyway, this little preamble is for me to bring to the public awareness the ordeal and tribulation encountered by some of our brothers and sisters who desire to bring-in their lawful spouse to Italy. I've heard testimonies of friends and others who have been battling for years in order to obtain a visa for their wives or husbands to join them here. These are people who have been here for many years, studied and working, whom I know have no 'bills' to settle with the authorities of neither this country nor that of Nigeria. As if it were not enough, one of them who has become Italian citizen was asked to produce his 'stay permit' when he sent them his certificate of citizenship and his Italian passport. Testimonies of people who have gone to this Embassy in Lagos in search of this seldom visa would make one think of getting a wife or a husband here. As a matter of fact, some have decided to abandon their spouse for another already here, or at least, find another one beside them for the meantime......”after all man is not made of wood.”
I have tried to know why this kind of frustration and all I could get was: “Some Nigerians don't remember having used their names to bring-in someone before as their spouse (for business), and so there is a thorough control by the Italian embassy in Nigeria to eradicate this kind of crime.” There have been stories of peoples wives and husbands being molested and extorted in the process of this “thorough control”. One of them told me that what pained him most was when his wife said to him: “I thought you said to be in Europe, so how come my friend who got married to a Nigerian living in Germany got her own visa in about six months time, while we have been battling for this for about five years now?”
So, for how long must we continue to purify ourselves for the eventual crimes committed by other Nigerians? And for how long will a Nigerian continue to be punished for the eventual crime committed or yet to be committed by another Nigerian? My appeal goes to our authorities involved and to our various Nigerian associations and organizations in this country to sit on a round table with the Italian authorities to find responding solutions to this problem which I see as humiliating to any man or woman.

Blessing Sunday Osuchukwu

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