BY HENRY UMORU, LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
DELEGATES were told yesterday that 16, 300 Nigerians were as of 2012 languishing in prisons abroad with some of them on death row.
According to the revelation, 6,000 Nigerians are awaiting death penalties for drug-related offences, while 5,145 Nigerian girls are in bondage after being trafficked. Another 3,719 Nigerians are also suffering in Canada; over 752 are in British jails, about 700 in China, 500 in India and 96 in Indonesia of which 23 are on death row.
Former Health Minister and a delegate on the platform of South East Geo- political zone, Prof Ihechukwu Madubuike, reeled out these figures while contributing to the report of the Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters Committee chaired by Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari.
Madubuike noted that consular services were not enough to take care of challenges faced by Nigerians in the Diaspora and staff, which has led to the recommendation for the creation of Foreign Service Commission.
His words: “If a nation’s foreign policy is a mix of strategies to safeguard the interest of the nation, then they must pay special interest to our diasporan citizens, especially those diasporans who are in jail or who have been detained justly or unjustly.
“The figures I heard are staggering as well as sobering. 5, 145 of our girls are in foreign countries languishing because of trafficking, 3719 Nigerians are somewhere in Canada languishing and this is according to a report released by the High Commission in Nigeria to that country. 18 of them are awaiting trial. A report from the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) recently said that 6,000 Nigerians are in various countries because of drug-related activities, other reports yet from the foreign services is that 15,316 Nigerians are in various prisons abroad, many of them awaiting death penalty.
“The foreign policy of a country begins and reflects its domestic policy. What you call your person is what he answers. If our domestic policies can take care of our people, give them jobs and provide social securities for them, many of them who are languishing in prisons abroad would not be there today.
Immediate withdrawal for OIC, Sahel states
A delegate representing Christian leaders, Godswill Iyoha Iyoke, yesterday, called for the immediate withdrawal of Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and Sahel States because of her secular nature. These came up during the consideration of Amb Lawrence Ekpebu as deputy chairman.
Presenting the report, Prof. Gambari stressed that foreign policy was not about foreigners but about Nigeria, what we want for Nigeria, for ourselves, from the world as well as to position Nigeria in a globalised world.
80% of our foreign missions on rented apartments –Nwachukwu
In his contribution, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and a delegate on the platform of Elder Statesmen Category, General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) disclosed that 80 per cent of Nigeria’s Foreign Missions, since 1960, have been under rent. He called for an increase in budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enable it address its multifarious challenges.
Stop NGOs from collecting money from foreign donors –Ali
Also contributing, a delegate representing the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali called on the Federal Government to stop Non- Governmental Organisations, NGOs, from taking money from foreign donors, who insult Nigeria, saying that our contribution to other countries must be beneficial to Nigeria.
Why foreign policy is expensive –Aminu
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and a delegate representing the Elder statesmen category, Prof. Jibril Aminu, who noted that nonchalant attitude of the government contributed in making foreign policy expensive, advised that a good foreign policy must be built upon a good domestic policy at home adding, “with all their money and power, America makes sure their people are safe.”
Aminu who noted that Nigeria International Affairs, NIA operatives were not promoted and made ambassadors as at when due called for a redress of the anomaly.
Nigerians in The Diaspora should be allowed to vote –Ozekhome
A federal government delegate, Addendum, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN who noted that Nigerians in the Diaspora were contributing so much to the country, supported the recommendation that they should be allowed to vote during elections.