One of the recipients of the MoneyGram-sponsored “Afrika! Community Award 2017”** is the Nigerian Community Germany e.V. (NGC), the umbrella body of Nigerian organisations in the country. Nigerians are found in various social stations across Germany and are organised in different forms – ethnic, religious, professional, political and socio-cultural. There’re no definite figures of the current number of Nigerians in the country.
Estimates by the Federal Statistical Office indicate that there were around 42,000 individuals with a Nigerian migration background residing in Germany in 2013 (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2014d). This includes both Nigerians still holding Nigerian citizenship as well as those that have naturalized and hold German nationality. It also includes both first and second generation migrants, defined by whether they were born abroad or in Germany. Officials believe that it’s likely that this is still an under-estimation of the actual number of people of Nigerian descent due to irregular migration and other factors. Hence, it’s generally assumed that there are more than 60,000 Nigerians in Germany.
Femi Awoniyi speaks in an exclusive interview with David Peters, president of NCG, on how the body is making a positive impact on the Nigerian community in Germany and the challenges it faces.
TAC: What is the Nigerian Community Germany e.V. about?
David Peters: The Nigerian Community Germany e.V. is the registered, official umbrella association of all Nigerian organisations in Germany. It brings together under one body all community organisations in the different towns and cities.
NCG has 16 branches which adequately covers all the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is expected that every Nigerian organisation in any part of Germany would be covered by the branch of the Nigerian Community in that area. For example, organisations of Nigerian descent in the area of Hamburg should register and identify with the Hamburg branch of the NGC, while the Nigerian Community in Hamburg is a member of the national body of the NCG. That way, information dissemination and networking are made easier.
What are the objectives of the Nigerian Community Germany?
The main objective of the NGC is to promote the welfare of Nigerians in Germany and defend their interests. Our focus in the discharge of that mandate is the promotion of the integration of Nigerians in the country. The body also promotes a patriotic spirit among Nigerians. So we encourage every Nigerian to see themselves as an ambassador of the country in Germany.
In what ways is NCG different from the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) Germany?
Essentially, every Nigerian in Germany should belong to the NCG. However there are distinct responsibilities for both organisations. While NCG is fully engaged with everything that concerns Nigerians in Germany, NIDO Germany is concerned with issues that relate to the development of Nigeria. NIDO Germany is more or less the professional arm of the Nigerian Community Germany and it helps in developing policy proposals for and promote foreign direct investment in Nigeria.
What are the main issues that your organisation deals with?
We mainly deal issues that concern the welfare of members but also those that relate to the promotion of social-cultural activities. For instance, problems with the Nigerian embassy come up frequently as well as issues concerning the migration office (Ausländeramt). We also deal with issues relating to peaceful co-existence of Nigerians in Germany with other members of society.
What are the problems you take up with the Embassy?
These are issues concerning consular services – visa and passport. And we take up these issues with the Embassy on behalf of our members.
What are the challenges confronting the NGC?
Our major challenge is bringing Nigerians together. We need far more active members to grow and become stronger. Another challenge is financial. We are funded by the dues paid by members as we receive no financial support from nowhere. Our lean purse hampers our effectiveness as we don’t have enough money to carry out our mandate effectively. If a member has a problem with a foreigner office in a city and we want to intervene, we need to travel there and meet the officials. This costs money. So the NGC can only serve the interests of Nigerians to the extent that it’s financially strong to do so.
Your message to Nigerians in Germany?
Let us all belong to the NGC. When we’re united we can achieve more. Most of us pay far more attention to our ethnic associations. It’s okay to belong to ethnic associations but we should also identify with the NGC because it’s the body that can officially fight for our interests.
What pains me is that when people have problems with the embassy or the German authorities, they turn to the NGC but they identify more with their ethnic associations. So my message is: please let us join the NGC and make it stronger.
Contact to NGC President
* There are hundreds of African organisations in Germany working in different fields to make an impact not only on their community in this country but also on people back home in Africa.
MoneyGram, the global money-transfer company, is the first corporate body to recognize the work of these associations and clubs this year when it introduced the “Afrika! Community Award”. Four organisations emerged winners of the maiden edition of the award and each of them received a cash donation of 1,000 euros for the support of their activities. One of the award recipients is the NGC.