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TOYOSI OJULARI

Drug peddling, internet fraud, living illegally, studying, merchant trading and playing football: these are the things Nigerians are synonymous with or well known for in India. If the number of Nigerians involved in the latter were more compared to those highlighted in the beginning it would have been much more better. The situation worsens by the day the number of Nigerians involved in one illegal activity or another in India is alarming, but who could have thought of it you ask, why India?, why would any Nigerian just wake up one day and decide to start living in India?

I’ll tell you why Nigerians from the east over the years have been flocking to major cities in India in search of greener pastures. You ask yourself once again how much more  greener can the grass be on that side of the world? The major cities in India like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Goa and Pune where Nigerians live enmass, have all the basic amenities a human needs (24 hours light, free water, security, internet service at a very cheap rate, very cheap food) so all together you can say these cities offer a better standard of living at a cheaper cost to majority of those living in them but who else do we have to fault for this but our own government.

The cities mentioned earlier have at least “600” Nigerians each living in them. This writer, has had a firsthand experience of all of these having lived and studied in Mumbai for four years(2010-2014) and I can tell you for most of my latter years in the city I was very ashamed when I found out what my fellow countrymen were involved in, ashamed to the extent if I was asked randomly what country I was from I avoided saying I was ”NIGERIAN”, it was like a stain. The number of Nigerians living in Mumbai is almost a thousand and (85 PERCENT)of this number are living in the city illegally, some don’t even have  valid passports or even possess one at all, some are drug peddlers, some are internet fraudsters who are generally referred too as “YAHOO BOYS”.

I don’t want to deviate farther from the main reason I’m writing this, which is how the image of Nigeria can be “CHANGED”. First it is to start from here in Nigeria, the Indian Embassy hardly conducts any thorough interview for visa applicants before handing out visas. Visas should not just be handed out to any Dick and Harry who tells you they’re going to India for business and then overstay their welcome in the country for years. The Indian visas being handed out to Nigerians seriously needs to reduce (especially the ones given to men).

The Nigerian government is also not helping matters. Our government needs to do more in assisting the Indian government in the deportation process of Nigerians who have warranted such action. The Indian authorities have claimed if Nigerian authorities are contacted about deporting of such people our government doesn’t reply them maybe because they do not want to bear the burden of paying for their flight tickets back home. For this reason you can find a lot of Nigerians across Indian jails waiting to be deported, which leaves the police with no option but to neglect arresting Nigerians who have overstayed their welcome. Nigerians already being aware of this stay relaxed and continue to live illegally in India, some even invite friends and family from Nigeria to come and “live the better life”.

Lastly, living out there exposed me to another set of humans and another culture and I found out a large section of Indians are close- minded and lack exposure. For example because of the number of Nigerians that have come into India over the years they believe any black man on the streets is Nigerian so even if someone of another African nationality commits a crime, a police, press and the people who witnessed such crime just assume he or she is a Nigerian. The Indian public needs to be enlightened on such issues and the Nigerian embassy in India is very much aware of all of these. Articles and videos which will enlighten them can be posted on facebook which have a lot of indians using it, tweets and retweets from Indian accounts if possible and ads on Indian tv.

Enough is enough, something needs to be done because it has become an eyesore, and the good Nigerians in India have suffered too much for the sins of their fellow countrymen.

Ojulari write for Hallmark.

 

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