While Nigeria and the world continue to celebrate and talk about Tobi Amusan Amazon, many Nigerians in the UAE are in anguish in the United Arab Emirates over the rejection of their visa renewals. The question is, “why?”.
Last week, a video of some men destroying cars, brandishing machetes, and disturbing public peace in Sharjah, UAE was in circulation. A press release by Dubai Police claimed that the suspects, a “group of African people” had been arrested. In another press release by Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, UAE, some members of two cult groups called Arobagas and Aye Confraternity Boys stabbed a “sickly Dubai Police to death” in retaliation for the alleged murder of their member in the Deira area of Dubai.
The deceased cultist identified as Ndubuisi Chigioke was said to have gone to a nightclub where he allegedly got into a heated argument with the bouncers. The argument led to the inviting the police who later discovered that his visa had expired about two weeks before the arrest. According to Nigerians in Diaspora Association, UAE, the UAE government placed a ban on citizens of Nigeria and some other countries.
As a male Black Muslim, being at the receiving end of stereotypes and generalization shaped my worldview and how stereotypes work. If one bitter female is not saying all men are sc*m without considering the fact that were all men so, there will be no married person; one white supremacist takes advantage of looting during BLM protests to say Black people are violent without considering the fact that were all Black people so, the world could have been nothing but a monster’s abyss; or one Islamophobe is calling Muslims words like terrorists, Jihadists and Islamists without considering the fact that were all Muslim terrorists, there will be no space available for him to utter such statement.
While there is no justification for crime, there is a need for a just system to hold criminals accountable for their actions. In the Islamophobes theory, misguided Muslims who do not account for one percent of the entire Muslim population are their representation of Islam. Because they see only what they want to see, Muslims are called terrorists and treated as such. An Algerian friend told me he met a Latvian family on the train and the Husband/Father had reacted to his hello with fear on his face, This brother wears a ‘sunnatic’ beard and above-the-ankle pants, is there any better way to look like the leader of ISIS?
Without being insensitive to the need to protect and preserve the peace in the country, my interaction with many Nigerians in the UAE shows that there is a need to also look at the bigger picture. Even though there are no official statistics, there are over 100, 000 Nigerians living in the UAE with different goals. Some are committed Muslims who are looking for a country to practice their religion and also engage in business, some are content creators and freelancers looking for stable internet and electricity, while others just want to leave Nigeria and others for many other reasons. One wonders whether it is right to put these people in anguish and frustration because of the actions of people who do not account for 5% of the entire population of Nigerians in the UAE. It follows that when policies like these are implemented, innocent people find themselves in vulnerable situations. With no work permit and a sudden ban on visa renewal due to the actions of a very few, many become illegal immigrants, homeless and entirely cut off from the system leading to a very high probability of engaging in criminal activities.
Another critical question that needs to be answered is how many percentage of a people need to be good before they represent the thought process of the entire population because as it seems, the ratio of good to bad in using it as a yardstick to judge a people is 99:1. If not, of all the Nigerians in the UAE, are there no upright, modest, crime-free, intellectual Nigerians that everyone gets grouped together when crimes are committed?.
Some weeks ago, I criticized the irresponsible action of a US-based Nigerian citizen who disrespected Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola by filming him recording the Minister even though he objected to it. Truth be told, the failure of the Nigerian Government in protecting the dignity of its people in places like the UAE can make people go berserk, lose their sense of patriotism and do worse than what the man did to Aregbesola. While the Nigerian government is not responsible for the actions of these criminals, it is its responsibility to cooperate with the UAE government in apprehending and punishing the criminals, and at the same time, making sure innocent Nigerians are not made to pay for the iniquities of others.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman
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