Yesterday, I was driving through Yeoville in Johannesburg when I glimpsed a sign through the glass windows of a hotel lobby (Safari Hotel) which boldly advised visitors thus: "This is to inform the public that Nigerian Nationals are not allowed in this hotel." I took offence with my South African companions and began to immediately wonder what sort of madness and discrimination I had just witnessed. Simple logic after all, demands that You cannot profile a group of people (in this case, all Nigerians) as a criminals, pimps and fraudsters.
Anyway, still seething with rage, I took a solid reflection of Nigerians’ situation in this city when I again, dashed through the streets of Hillbrow and Central Business District of Johannesburg. I couldn’t help but marvel at how the activities of Nigerians, mostly, had reshaped the landscape of this city. Images of a typical central Lagos pervades here: Petty traders hawking alongside heaps of refuse; drug dealers pedaling their illicit trade, prostitutes and their pimps and general organized chaos. The deep, baritone accent of the Nigerian English easily gives these perpetrators away. Added to that, they are loud, brazen and shameless in deprecating the city in promoting their trades; and in the process, discomforting the very people that had welcomed them into their land.
I am in full agreement that the insanity of the Johannesburg city centre cannot be blamed entirely on Nigerians. But please bear with me. This article is about Nigerians and their preference for a squalid existence in a foreign land rather than staying home for a more productive life. Nigerians will raise travel funds (flight tickets, accommodation, food, visa, etc), an amount sizeable to establish a reasonable small scale business, and use it to sojourn in foreign lands doing petty things they’d never dream about. If you looked closely, you would see that the culprits are mostly dregs from the lower rungs of the Nigerian society. They are largely unskilled and found their way to South Africa with only the clothes on their backs. They have now become a menace to the society that harbors them.
These Nigerians are now South Africa’s problems because their own nation would rather fete and defend criminal elements in the political class rather address the serious socio-economic challenges that drive Nigerians from their homelands. They would prefer instead to live in the squalor of Johannesburg.
As much as I wonder at the choices people sometimes make in deciding their futures, I will typically blame the Nigerian government for letting down these fragile set of people. They couldn’t find the security they needed at home so they sojourned abroad only to live an existence that they should rightly be ashamed of. They do not trust their own government to protect and provide for them.
And really, how can anyone in his right mind trust a government that celebrates mediocrity and criminality. A government that is content to leave its citizens to the wimps of foreign countries because it had conveniently absconded from its role.
As we speak, the mess that is the Nigerian government continues to unfold. I awoke this morning to news of the Presidential pardon for a group of VIP criminals in Nigeria. It was a decision as much shameful as it is reckless in its recommendations. I see no basis for this latest government indiscretion to pardon people who pillaged our commonwealth and mortgaged the future of our sons and daughters. A pardon for People who’s various acts of disservice is the very reason many of us are languishing in foreign lands because there is nothing credible to come back to.
The arrogance of our political leadership certainly has no limit and their mindlessness is a calamity which final chapters are yet to be written. They are so shameless, even shame has lost its meaning. Nigeria will surely not find salvation with these crop of political leaders.
Sometimes it seems, you don’t need too many reasons to hate Nigeria and I feel so hateful towards my country right now.
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