The N800,000 Insult From Britain

Britain has not given up its plan to extract £3, 000 (about N800,000) from each visitor from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Pakistan and India from November this year. Adult visitors, who would be forced to pay the £3,000 bond, would forfeit the money if they overstayed in the country.  British authorities say the policy will affect “high-risk” visitors seeking a six-month visa, and that it is an attempt to curb immigration and abuses in the system.

Since the UK flew the kite (or made its plan known) about three weeks ago, comments from the affected countries have gone only one way – negative. But British high commissioner in Nigeria Dr Andrew Pocock has not denied the plan, nor has he stated that his country would reconsider the matter. Therefore, we should assume that the David Cameron-led government is serious about implementing the plan to exploit Nigerians further.

It is possible that Britain is expressing anger at the failure of Nigeria to accept gay marriage. It could also be a reaction to the murder of a British soldier by a Nigerian (but British-born and -bred) terror suspect a few months ago. Whatever is the reason, the UK is not to blame for trying to protect itself from foreigners who might take its jobs or infect it with crimes.

The promise of the British High Commission that the policy would affect “only a very small number of the highest risk visitors” should be disregarded. Ostensibly, there will be no exceptions: every visitor from the affected countries will be expected to pay the bond money. So, rather than wait for official communication, the Nigerian authorities should get ready with a response strategy.  And the best response would be to make journeys to Britain unattractive.

It appears odd that many young people are still seeking to obtain British visa, even as that country’s economy is tottering on the brink. But are the Nigerian youth to blame? Everywhere else appears better than Nigeria where unemployment hovers above 80 per cent, the education system has collapsed and poverty is killing over 90 per cent of the population. Some of the rich Nigerians have made Britain their permanent home and only visit Nigeria occasionally to help in looting its resources.

There was a time Nigerians did not need a visa to travel to Britain. Imposing a £3, 000 bond on a citizen of a former colony is an insult of unimaginable proportion. Perhaps it is because Nigeria has not asked for reparation for a century of colonialism during which the resources of the country were used to feed the industries of the west. And, for decades after independence, the brightest and the best Nigerians have been slaving for Western nations like Britain and America.

Nigeria has been challenged to make itself habitable for its own citizens and attractive to foreigners. Imposing a similar bond on Nigerian visa seekers from Britain will not achieve anything good at this time that foreign companies are divesting from Nigeria. We have to think home — we have to make Nigeria work for Nigerians.

Culled from Leadership Newspaper

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