Deportation of Nigerian Pilgrims: The world is teaching us a lesson, Aliyu U. Tilde


Other nations will continue to teach Nigeria basic lessons in civilization and governance so long as its leaders fail to live up to their responsibilities by ensuring that rule of law in entrenched in our society.

Three things have happened of recent in this regard. After the corrupt Nigerian judicial system gave a clean bill of health to James Ibori, a former state governor, a powerful adviser to former President Yar’adua and the biggest financier of the ruling PDP in 2007, British courts found him guilty of the same corruption charges and sent him straight to jail. Our judges should burry their heads in shame. Some Niger Delta youths that were on his payroll even threatened to attack British oil interests in the Niger Delta, proving further that Nigeria is a jungle where thieves and cannibals go about free and celebrated as leaders.

South Africa refused some Nigerian passengers entry when it discovered that their claim to vaccination was false. When a Nigerian presents a yellow card at any airport in the world, the general perception is that it is false. And, truly, it is, except in few cases. Nigerians, as usual, complained. The third case is the recent deportation of 1226 Nigerian Muslim female pilgrims from Jeddah for the failure of each to comply with the requirement of the company of a mahram – a person who is prohibited for live under shariah law to marry the woman. Space is made on the visa form and card for the name of the mahram but Nigerian pilgrim officials always play “419” by writing false names on the card and presenting them to the Saudi embassy for approval. The embassy has no option but to issue the visa. When the female pilgrim arrives Jeddah, there would be nobody answering the false name she provided during her visa her.

During the lesser hajj, female pilgrims concoct what is called “mijin visa”, or visa husband, to get around the rule. This is just any man the woman picks among pilgrims in the trip. Nigerians! The Saudis have been overlooking this perfidy for years. This year they decided to put an end to the nonsense. Nigerians, again, complained. The President sent a delegation to plead with the Saudi authorities. No one cared to listen.

In spite of the appeals, the pilgrims who were detained in a cage like kangaroos under subhuman conditions were eventually deported back to the jungle. Officials of the National Hajj Commission and the state Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards, like our corrupt judges, should burry their heads in shame. They have brought unnecessary hardship on the female pilgrims and disgraced the nation in no small measure.

But they are not alone. They are just like numerous other Nigerian officials at various levels of government: nobody feels that it is imperative to apply rules. Their perception of office is that it is a shop for making profit. Against these officials should our anger be directed, not against the Kingdom that is simply applying its laws. This, however, I understand, is not the popular reaction of Nigerians to the crisis.

Now that we have been hurt by the deportation of Nigerian pilgrims, our officials will finally start to pay attention to the provision. But only now, after the damage is done to the pilgrims and to our image. The world has realized that the only way to get us know that laws are important in the management of any nation is to strictly apply them on us. If we have destroyed our country by turning away from rule of law, they are telling us that other nations are not that primitive. They are ready to teach us a lesson.

The question is: Are we ready to learn? No, unless it becomes necessary, like when we go on pilgrimage or visit other countries. But once in Nigeria, we are happy to lead a life of the jungle where the strong flouts every rule and go Scot-free. No wonder, our security problem continues to increase by the day. I am sorry to say that the end of our desire to live primitively is not in sight, yet. Thank God, we are not the only Homo sapiens inhabiting the planet. Other nations are ready not to allow us destroy it as we destroyed our country.


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