The group described Nigeria’s reaction as ‘rash.’
The Afenifere Renewal Group, a Yoruba socio-political group, has frowned at the “rash reactions” that greeted the U.K.’s announcement of a visa bond for ‘high risk visitors’ including those from Nigeria.
In a statement on Monday, the group said Nigeria’s image requires better management than the way is being presently handled by the leadership of the country.
The group added that two recent events confirm their position.
“The first is the rash reactions that followed UK’s announcement of a visa bond for Nigerian visitors.
“Federal government has promised to ‘protect interest of Nigerians’ and has even summoned British High Commissioner to a meeting in Abuja,” the group said in a statement signed by Kunle Famoriyo, Media and Publicity Secretary.
“Secondly, while addressing Nigerian community in Cameroon, President Jonathan said Nigeria did not appeal ICJ ruling on Bakassi, partly because it is interested in protecting Nigerians living in Cameroun.
“It is good that our government is prompt in attending to needs of Nigerians living abroad, but does charity no longer begin at home?”
The group said that the two incidents show disparity in government’s commitment to peace and prosperity at home; even portraying government as ready to compromise on Nigeria’s prosperity for the sake of those in Diaspora.
“As bad as the UK’s policy may sound, it underscores Nigeria’s dwindling international reputation,” the statement continued.
“Our foreign minister disclosed that as many as 9000 Nigerians are serving prison terms abroad, with the highest, 752, in the UK.
“Similarly, Deputy Chief of Mission, Nigerian Embassy in China, Ambassador Patrick Olusola Onadipe, lamented that 366 Nigerians are in Chinese prisons, mostly for drug trafficking. Four are in death row in China; 22 in Indonesia,” it added.
The group urged the Nigerian government to regain the trust of its citizens by implementing people-oriented policies.
“We know of a truth that many Nigerians abroad want to come back home – not to be a burden on us but to help improve the economy.
“It is so sad that our government has not been able to create the enabling environment for their return; yet it wants to protect them so they continue living abroad and so the brain drain trend continues.”
The group further noted the fresh charges filed against the Leadership Newspaper journalists by the federal government, adding that the media ought to be free to exercise their rights.
“Worse still, politics of re-election, nepotism and ethnic sentiments have become the determining factor for implementing federal government’s policies,” the statement said.
“Afenifere Renewal Group thinks Nigeria has no business courting foreign governments over its citizens’ “interests,” only if we utilize our resources for our citizens’ interests. Mr. President, charity must begin at home.”