Nigeria’s ambassador to Germany, HE Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, hosted a delegation* of the Edo Community of Nigeria, Germany e.V. (Edo`s in Germany) on Friday, 16 August in Berlin.
Alhaji Tuggar held a meeting with the delegation, including members of the national executive council of Edo Community Germany, in the company of Ambassador (Mrs) Shakirat Ogundero, the Deputy Head of Mission, Alhaji Musa Anka, Minister in charge of the Consular & Immigration Section, and Mrs Ivie Imarah, First Secretary.
The General Secretary of Edo Community Germany, Mr Henry Iheukwumere, introduced members of the delegation, explaining that Edo Community Germany represents indigenes of Edo State living in Germany and that the body had local chapters in towns and cities across Germany.
The meeting, at the request of Edo Community Germany, was to introduce the organisation to the Embassy, said Hon. Christian Ejodamen, President of the organisation, in his opening remarks. The parley was also to bring some issues of concern to the knowledge of the diplomatic mission and seek its co-operation in resolving them, he added.
Hon. Ejodamen, who led the delegation, expressed the desire of the Edo community in Germany to work closely with Ambassador Tuggar and the Embassy.
“We want the Embassy to know us well and we want to develop a good working relationship with the mission which we believe will make its work easier,” Hon. Ejodamen remarked.
He explained that his association, which is non-profit, non-religious and non-political, was majorly concerned with the welfare of Edo people and other Nigerians in Germany and that it also actively promotes Nigerian culture. Moreover, Edo Community Germany regularly lends support to the less-privileged in Nigeria through humanitarian activities. He pleaded for the support of the Embassy in the group’s pursuit of its laudable aims.
Hon. Ejodamen praised Ambassador Tuggar for his accessibility, describing him as “a friend, brother and father to Nigerians in Germany”.
In his welcome speech, Ambassador Tuggar said Edo State was important to the work of the Embassy. He mentioned the First Nigerian Cultural Day, which took place in Berlin on 22 July, where he made a demand for the return of Benin works of art in the possession of German museums and private collectors.
The diplomat explained that the Government of Edo State and the Palace of the Oba of Benin were aware of the efforts of the Nigerian embassy for the return of these precious cultural goods, which “we’re pursuing vigorously”.
The ambassador assured of his confidence that the artefacts would be returned because of the ongoing international debate on the issue and recent developments such as a German museum’s return of two ancient artefacts to Greece.
Ambassador Tuggar also talked about migration, Edo State being a major origin of irregular migrants. He explained that the Embassy encourages the German government to tackle the root causes of irregular migration by offering support for skills development and increased micro-financing opportunities in Nigeria.
On the issue of the planned deportation of 30,000 Nigerians by the German government, raised by the visiting Edo delegation, the ambassador assured that the Embassy would not collaborate with anybody to carry out any unjustified deportations. He called on Nigerians to dismiss rumours making the rounds that the Embassy was colluding with the German authorities. “We will not support any efforts to remove any Nigerians unjustifiably, ” he assured.
Ambassador Tuggar expressed doubt about the figure of 30,000 would-be deportees against the background that there were about 32,000 Nigerians legally resident in the country. “So how could there be 30,000 Nigerians irregularly living in the country?” he asked. “My position is that it’s a lie. So, we do not accept that figure.”
Edo Community Germany raised the issue of the official recognition of the body by the Embassy. Mr Anka asked the organization to send its membership list and the names of its executive officials to the mission for proper recognition and registration.
The ambassador announced at the meeting that the Embassy of Nigeria in Germany recognizes only Edo Community of Nigeria, Germany e.V. as the sole representatives of the Edo people in the country.
Mr Anka in his contribution encouraged members of Edo Community Germany to participate in the National Identification Number (NIN) registration exercise which will be flagged off in Berlin on 23 August.
On the issue of Nigerian organizations contributing to the development of their home country, Ambassador Tuggar opined that if these groups were well organized, they could partner with German institutions to carry out development and humanitarian projects in Nigeria. The ambassador called on Edo Community Germany to explore the possibilities of such partnerships.
The Edo Community Germany delegation also raised the issue of the planned visits of the Governor of Edo State and the Oba of Benin to Germany. The organization would like to enlist the assistance of the Embassy in the preparations for the visits, whose dates are yet to be fixed.
Ambassador Tuggar pledged his full co-operation with Edo Germany on the forthcoming visits to ensure their success. On possible material or financial support, the ambassador said that would be sorted out in direct communication between the Embassy and the Office of the Governor and the Palace of the Oba.
Ambassador Tuggar advised that planning for the visits should commence as early as possible and that all stakeholders should be duly informed well in advance of the visits.
The ambassador also advised the delegates to inform the Office of the Governor and the Palace of the Oba to communicate with the Embassy directly on the visits.
The Edo delegation also raised the issue of some faceless individuals waging a campaign of defamation against the Oba of Benin and threatening members of the Edos in Diaspora on social media. The ambassador said the matter should be taken up with the German authorities as only state institutions could handle such issues bothering on criminality which the embassy will also follow up.
The Delegates informed the ambassador that messages sent to the official email addresses of the Embassy were usually not acknowledged making communication with the mission difficult. Ambassador Tuggar promised to resolve the problem. He reminded the delegation that visa application had been outsourced to agents and appointments for passport issuance and renewal had to be made with the Embassy online. The ambassador reiterated that the Embassy was making strenuous efforts to overcome the challenges to efficient service delivery.
On the complaints of that visa agents were not being courteous in their dealings with Nigerians, Ambassador Tuggar asked Mr Anka to get in touch with the agents and emphasise that they should be respectful to Nigerians. On why the visa process was expensive, the ambassador explained that visa regimes were based on the principle of reciprocity.
Hence, Nigerian visa policy in Germany is reciprocal of the visa policy of Germany in Nigeria.
On the issue of German spouses of Nigerians who have to apply for visa each time they visit Nigeria with their partners, Mr Anka said the affected persons could apply for the migrant status in Nigeria which would allow them to travel in out of the country without visa. The application could only be made however in Nigeria at the Nigerian Immigration Service.
The final issue discussed during the interaction session was how the Embassy could help Nigerians based in Germany going back home to establish themselves and contribute to the development of the country.
Ambassador Tuggar pointed to incentives being offered in that regard by German and international institutions. He mentioned the Centrum für internationale Migration und Entwicklung (CIM), an agency under the supervision of Germany’s ministry of economic co-operation and development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung or BMZ), and the International Organisation for Migration, which run schemes for Diaspora returnees.
“In fact, the BMZ has come to the Embassy to introduce their programmes offering support to Diaspora returnees. They even have a desk for Africa.”
Ambassador Tuggar also mentioned Nigerian government’s agencies which could be approached, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the North East Development Commission (NEDC). There may be opportunities provided by these institutions for the Diaspora, he said.
Moreover, he advised would-be returnees to explore the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for possible areas of mutually-beneficial engagement.
The Edo delegation expressed its disappointment that they were not informed of the 1st Nigerian Cultural Day which was why they were not able to participate in it. Ambassador Tuggar apologized, explaining that it was an unintended oversight. He explained that the event was announced on the website of the Embassy, but efforts would be made next year to directly inform all community organizations.
At the end of the more than 2 hours of meeting, Mr Christian Ejodamen, President of Edo Germany, thanked Ambassador Tuggar, Mrs Ogundero, Mr Anka and Ms Imarah for hosting them and pledged his organisation’s co-operation with the Embassy. He again praised the ambassador for his accessibility to Nigerians and “being on top of all the issues of concern to Nigerians in Germany”.
*Members of the Delegation
Hon. Christian Ejodamen – National President (National Body)
Mr Edyson Iyamu – National V. President (National Body)
Mr Henry Iheukwumere – National General Secretary (National Body)
Mr Leo Amadasun – National Treasurer (National Body)
Mr Jeff Omorodion – President, Berlin Branch
Ms Kate Sunday Idemudia
Mr Monday Eguavoen
Mr Jeffrey Wiah
Mr Robinson Igbinigia
Mr Kelvin Osarenren
Mr Festus Ekhator