January 7, 2017

Nigerians in china cry out, Drug traffickers are robbing us of privileges

t  a  forum organised by the Nigerian community in China to address the thriving illicit trade on drugs and its effects on not just China-Nigeria bilateral relationship, but also on Nigerians living and doing business in China, the President, Good Governance Initiative (GGI), Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, while saying  85 per cent of Nigerians believe that China exerts  positive influence on the social and economic development in Nigeria, explained that China and Nigeria, as partners, are not deserving of any bad image the growing malaise of drug trafficking may rob on both nations’ integrity.

In this interview, Festus, who also disclosed that whereas Nigerians transactions in Guangdong Province alone in China are in the region of  $5,000,000  a day, Nigerians continue to  suffer the worst form of stereotyping in China and many other countries abroad in addition to being placed on various diplomatic restrictions.

How do you describe China-Nigeria bilateral relations?

Both countries are committed to realising a long lasting bilateral relationship and, as the Nigeria-China cooperation continues to grow, there are over 50 Chinese official development finance projects identified in Nigeria which cut across rail, power and telecommunications within the last 10 years. But the underlying fact which Nigerians in China have failed to grasp is that Nigerian immigrants in China should have been the direct recipients of these benefits of trade development and mutual cooperation.

China looks up to Nigeria as a model of trade and economic development to boost its cooperation with Africa. At present, there over 2,000 registered Chinese businesses and companies in Nigeria alone and China seeks, avenues of mutual person-to-person cooperation between its nationals, business owners and Nigerian citizens.

Festus Mbisiogu

Why are Nigerians placed on diplomatic restrictions in China?

Today, because of the involvement of some Nigerian citizens in drug trafficking in China and other places, we cannot truly say that the consummate benefits of this relationship are robbing off on all of us. Rather we are being profiled on daily basis and denied some privileges which ordinarily should come with our residing in this country.

It is knowledge in the public domain that because of this involvement in drugs, by some miscreants, all of us are paying a heavy price for it. Like our people say, when one finger is dipped in the red oil, it will automatically affect all the other fingers even when they do not want to be rubbed with oil. However due to our abusive tendencies to law and order we are on a daily basis denied these benefits and are instead placed on diplomatic restrictions.

Would you say it is partly the reason Nigerians are denied resident permit and/or visa extension?

In Guangdong Province, Nigerians are no longer given  resident permit. There is also no visa extension. Nigerians who are married and residing in China are not given resident permit. That is why many of us do not have our families here with us. Our citizens who come here to study cannot get resident permit and are not allowed to work unlike the citizens of other countries. There is no doubt that illicit drugs and trafficking undermine state authority and the rule of law by fuelling corruption, compromising elections, and hurting the legitimate economy and significant impact on the livelihood and quality of life, particularly the poor, our women and children including all of us here, because one way or the other, we are involved.

What can the Nigerian authority in China do in this regard?

I plead with the Nigerian embassy in China to find every means to look into the affairs of the many Nigerian citizens present here. The community gathering, known as “Nigerian Union”, is vey paramount. We are a communal people and China recognizes the impact of our community gathering, as it aids control and management of the numerous Nigerian immigrants resident or transacting businesses across China. Our embassy authorities should help in creating a platform of legality in the leadership of the Nigerian community. This I believe will aid all our efforts to harness the activities of many Nigerian citizens who are here in China for different purposes. Although, the embassy may not be able to follow the activities of every Nigerian, a legal platform of the Nigeria Union in countries of abode can combat some of the excesses of a few robbing us the immense benefits of our cooperation with host countries.

What advice do you have for fellow Diaspora Nigerians?

We should all rise and say no to drugs because drugs and crime undermine development by eroding social and human capital. The direct impact of victimization, discrimination, image problem as well as fear of crime impedes the socio-economic development of all. It leads to restriction of movements as already highlighted by the position of Chinese authorities on some of us here in China. It also impedes access to possible employment and educational opportunities, and it discourages the accumulation of assets.

Nigerian citizens used to be the most favourite of China’s selection of Africans to partner with in business and other mutual relationship but these unlawful behaviors robbed the average Nigerian immigrant and businessman in China that privilege.

The negative effects of illicit drug trafficking and unlawful behaviors go beyond the shores of China. I can’t remember any former drug dealer who is at peace with the proceeds made from drug trafficking whether for himself, children and family; therefore why should you continue to plot your own ruin in life? We all must rise to say no to drugs. Nigerians must rise to say no to drugs. Let me emphasize here that religion has become a part of our cultural values, and, since it plays a major influence on how we value life, I urge religious leaders to help discourage the temptation but encourage true blessings when we work hard, pray and trust God. As much as we are foreigners in China and have come here with the sole intent to succeed and take wealth home, the issue of clash of interest and partisan politics among Nigerian citizens, whom I believe all have genuine intentions to help to organize their fellow brothers and sisters, should not be viewed in the negative but to be encouraged to take a formal approach with due respect to the laws of the land.