Africa has unfortunately become a punching bag for Angela Merkel’s Immigration Policy,
– Kenneth Gbandi, Chair of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Europe
Nigerians living in Germany are voicing out their views on German government’s plan to deport 12,000 rejected asylum-seekers. A top German functionary, Dr Ralf Sanftenberg, had during a visit to the Nigerian presidency in Abuja on 7 February revealed that there were more than 12,000 Nigerian asylum-seekers in his country and the overwhelming majority of them had practically no chances of being successful with their claims.
Sanftenberg, who is the Global Head of programme, Migration and Development at the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, revealed that between now and the end of next year, Germany intends to deport more than 12,000 Nigerians.
In this opinion piece, Kenneth Gbandi, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Europe – NIDOE, debunks the argument of the German government that the Nigerian asylum claims are not credible, arguing that there are enough grounds to allow them to stay just as the Syrians are granted residency. He offers the affected Nigerians an opportunity to defend their stay in Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference in Berlin with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during his visit in 2016 stated that Germany is unable to grant all Nigerians, claiming to be fleeing militant groups, international protection because “we presume that most of them came for economic reasons” unlike Syrians or Iraqis who are fleeing war zones.
This claim is very unfortunate and a very clear indication that the Merkel-led German government had ambushed President Buhari into accepting the deportation of Nigerians.
It is unfortunate that the same German government attribute the absence of German investment in Nigeria to security concerns, a position supported by the German Foreign office and collaborated by German Trade and Investment.
This attitude of the German government towards Nigeria is just a true reflection of Merkel´s government Immigration Policy towards Africa, which unfortunately it’s implementing in collaboration with some of the African countries.
Is Nigeria really safe?
Is Nigeria very safe as the German government would like us to believe? Let us look at the figures quoted by the Nigerian government, agencies and media as well as German and international organizations on the security situation in the country.
Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, told a parade of honour in Sokoto that 90,000 police officers had been “lost” to the insurgency since 2011 (Daily Trust, Tuesday 1 December 2015). Amnesty International claimed that a total of 17,000 people had been killed across North-East Nigeria since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009. President Goodluck Jonathan was once quoted by multiple sources that around 13,000 people were killed in the insurgency between 2009 and 2014.
Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies also reported that 33,619 Nigerians were killed in more than 2,300 incidents during ethnic, religious, political and economic violence across Nigeria between 1998 and the end of 2014.
Between the first quarter of 2009 and the last quarter of 2014, it was reported that 23,888 deaths were attributed to Boko Haram, communal clashes, Fulani herdsmen invasion and other forms of violence across the six geo-political zones of the country.
Saturday PUNCH in May 2016 reported that no fewer than 3,094 Nigerians had been killed by suspected Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen since President Buhari assumed office on 29 May 2015. Amnesty International has also reported that at least 1,600 people had been killed by the members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect since the beginning of June 2015 when Buhari was inaugurated as the President of Nigeria.
Add these figures together and help me to ask the German government to help us define what security concern is. She cannot be telling us that she will help the country fight Boko Haram and at the same time saying that most Nigerians claiming to be fleeing militant groups for international protection came for economic reasons.
Compare with Syrians
There is no denial of the fact that Syrian refugees arrived in Germany into open arms because of what the Merkel administration considered their high value, especially regarding their assumed qualifications in areas such as ICT, Medicine and other critical professions that the government considers as important as well as to the demographic question of Germany.
Unfortunately 99 per cent of Nigerian refugees according to Dr Ralf Sanftenberg, the Global Head of programme, Migration and Development at Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, are considered unskilled and uneducated.
Germany is best known for its Dual Vocational Training System, “Ausbildung ”; let no body tell me that the so-called uneducated Nigerians are not fit to gain vocational education which is very much needed to sustain economic prosperity of Germany.
If Nigeria and by extension some African countries have gotten the generous financial, structural and institutional support the Syrian refugees had received and are still receiving from Merkel’s government, they will certainly do very well and continue to contribute to the development of Germany like every other migrant group.
So, the issues of the so-called unskilled and uneducated Nigerians which many individuals within and outside the government considered as a valid reason for the deportation of the Nigerians is just a political alibi.
For someone to be denied a stay due to their unwillingness to integrate into the system is one thing, but denying them a stay on the grounds given by the Merkel government while other groups are treated to a federal grand reception is the crux of my piece.
This double morality is a highly deplorable. I stand to be corrected if I say that Nigerians are some of the most productive migrant groups in Germany, contributing to the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of the country. Let nobody tell you otherwise.
What the Nigerian Embassy must do
While we congratulate the Federal Government of Nigeria for its determination to wipe out the menace of Boko Haram, however, by its very own account, the security situation in the past has been a very serious challenge, and the issue of Fulani herdsmen since President Buhari assumed office has been an issue of national debate and in the Diaspora as well.
If President Buhari is asking for assistance to fight Boko Haram, the German government must stop speaking from both sides of the mouth. The least we ask is that any Nigerian who is already in Germany must be given a fair chance and treated within the international procedure, no more no less.
Since the Nigerian and the German governments have reached an agreement on the indirect deportation of Nigerians, the best we can do is to make sure that Germany sticks to acceptable international procedure.
We will go further to source legal services to individuals affected by this ambush within the availability of our resources and within the limit of the law. As NIDOE, we will seek and work to collaborate with any institutions in Germany in the provision of vocational training targeting the 12,000 earmarked for deportation.
We will keep watch to make sure that our Embassy will carry out their consulate responsibilities and make sure that every Nigerian affected will be afforded the benefit of his right to fair hearing in Germany if they so wish, without any undue pressure from the Merkel’s government. We will keep vigilant and make sure that there will not be any lazy compromises.