It’s hard not to feel assaulted by the many occurrences of late: primary of which is the heat. Assaulted? A dictionary defines the word as ‘an act or an attempt to do bodily injury to another or an instance of unlawfully threatening or attempting to injure another’. Injury in this instance may also be psychological. This past week in the United Kingdom, the body of humanity have been assaulted by the merciless sun. The heat has been confirmed as a heat wave.
Every day and night has felt like the peak of the dry season in Nigeria. But of course, one must not complain. It is cold for longer here than hot and temperatures as we have seen this week are rather uncommon and must be appreciated.
The assault has taken many forms. One of which is the flying around of nasty, big, black mosquitoes or perhaps flies which uncannily target your hair, uncovered food and stuff. Then, there are the wasps, ants and the of course Tango the rather annoying pigeon that has chosen my window to make her nest. Bird puu is fast becoming the color of some windows including mine. She has on occasion flown in through the window causing aggravated hysteria.
The heat, of course, necessitates the regular intake of liquids and fluids to prevent dehydration. A tough time for those observing the Ramadan, the rules of which forbid the taste or drink of water. The heat makes even saints irritable when things don’t work properly. The proclivity to notice little things becomes heightened when Tango begins to make those annoying noises that make you want to scream. Sometimes you do scream in agony of both the heat and the nuisance of a bird that refuses to understand the boundary between man and domesticated birds. Its futile. She leaves but comes back and makes even more noise.
Online dailies exacerbate underlying agonies. The first irritation occurred when Premium Times issued a breaking news alert the man alleged- Major Hamza Al Mustapha- to have killed Mrs Kudirat Abiola was released after 15 years incarceration. He was accompanied by the leader of the Odua People Congress (OPC), 78 year old, Dr. Fredrick Fasheun. The politics behind the acquittal of Major Al Mustapha leaves a huge question unanswered ‘ so who killed Mrs Kudirat Abiola? In a nation where no one is ever punished significantly for financial crimes and homicides, it is thought that the Nigerian State may have to compensate Major Al Mustapha for the time he has spent behind bars. Will the murderers of Dele Giwa, Chief Bola Ige, Pa Alfred Rewane forever remain at large?
The image of celebrations at the Kano airport where crowds received their hero was nauseating. The media attention the Major is getting must be painful for the Abiola family to monitor. It is common knowledge that our judicial system is corrupt and broken. Unless the judiciary is purged, many families may never move on from the injustice of the premature deaths of their loved ones.
Back to that breaking news. The allusion to the fact that by supporting Major Al-Mustapha, Dr Fasheun is detribalised is ludicrous simply because the late Bashorun MKO Abiola who died defending his mandate, did not die for just the Yorubas. The June 12 elections is bigger than an one tribe and dialect. It is a shame that June 12th is not commemorated in the Northern States. The last vestige of the brutal reign of Abacha’s despotic rule, Major Al Mustapha terrorized everybody and made a name for himself whilst doing that. The fact that he is celebrated now shows how the Nigerian nation suffers from amnesia.
Reading reactions to the Immigration bond proposed by the Home Office from November 2013, one cannot help but notice the anger directed at the Home Secretary, Mrs Theresa May. The plan is that the United Kingdom would charge first time visitors to the UK £3000 or N750,000 at the point of entry into the UK from November 2013. Mrs May, the Home Secretary argued that the intention is to make the immigration service more ‘selective and to deter people from over staying once their visitor visa has expired‘.
In the United Kingdom, it appears that there is public support for this move as for the time being it gives the Tory government the much needed PR. It makes them boast that they have an handle on immigration already. With the country’s fragile recovery, cuts to welfare and public spending, it is thought that Mrs May and her team have miscalculated the cost of this policy. Given the sheer bravado of this Conservative government: bull dozing the reform of the marriage Act, over hauling the Welfare system, unfortunately, the Immigration bond is here to stay. The question is what is the response from the Nigerian government? Is the African Union going to respond in kind?
Non Europeans are dis enfranchised because in their home countries, they suffer from epileptic power, substandard health care, poor roads and
inadequate infrastructural facilities amongst other problems. Travelling abroad (to the UK) is still perceived as a ‘promotion’. To counteract this imbalance Nigerians need also to speak with their pockets and avoid the United Kingdom. This is why. Nigerians would now need to pay £3,000 on top of the already expensive costs of travelling overseas. The bond will put off any upwardly mobile Nigerian who seeks to travel here for fun or pleasure.
Sadly, Nigerians have an insatiable lust for imported things: be it clothes, shoes, bags, accessories and so on. Many Nigerians are already looking for how they can raise that money. England means more to Nigerians than anything. We pray, fast, use anointing oil, give testimonies about trips to the Embassies for visa, we are obsessed about travelling out. It is point less complaining about the Bond. Very soon, it would become a thing of pride and joy that some people can afford to pay the Bond and some others can’t. We are a shamelessly capitalistic people.
The bond, most outrageous, a proposal yet, the Brits are not stopping at that. Every day, some politician proposes on how the NHS can charge non Europeans for the use of the service. The African Union, ECOWAS and all regional parties affected by the Bond, must respond swiftly and in kind. The message from Nigeria and Africa is to do the same and let the Brits who prefer warmer climes pay the same bond or even more for just visiting. Preferably, they can pay £10,000 should they decide to stay anywhere in Africa. Only a collective move as this would show the Brits we are organized enough to call their bluff.
Whilst we are at it, we can also improve our roads, health care, schools etc so our people can begin to take pride in our own institutions. Granted the Brits have lost the plot with the introduction of this Immigration Bond, but for them, it is their way of solving the problem of errant visitors who chose to stay and remain a drain on their economy. This move should provoke our leaders to invest more in tourist locations ensuring that those who prefer to spend their monies over seas are enticed to spending that money at home instead. We can take this the positive way, by making sure our country is comfortable for the most to live in. Then, gradually, the queues at the relevant embassies for visa would begin to reduce. Tragically, that is not going to happen.