This article is simply to disclose rather than to judge, the great challenges that illegal immigration pose to Nigeria. It is necessary to highlight some practical ways to address those challenges.
It is time to begin overdue debate on a rational Immigration Policy for Nigeria. It has such neighbours, Niger and Chad, to the Northern border. This very border is as porous as spaghetti sieve. Illegal aliens continue to walk and wade across the border over a period of several years. In fact, this issue has deeply become a matter of national security for Nigeria as a Nation. Criminal and Terrorist Networks present a serious threat to border security.
Nigeria has gone through one crisis after another since gaining independence from Britain. The most catalyzing events being the destruction of houses, churches, and innocent lives, following the recent Presidential election and those of lawmakers and governors! The election results were declared to be free, fair and transparent, except for some centres in the North!! Foreign observers, that included the former Canadian Prime Minister, Rt. Honorable Joe Clark, and delegation from Carter Centre (for Enhancement of Freedom & Democracy), and UN Representatives; all certified this election as free and fair. But, the culture of political violence and cascade of abuse in the North, following the election, forced the Federal Government to impose limited curfew in the affected areas in the North.
Now, some hooligans were rounded and locked up in those parts of the Northern States, according to report from Nigeria. For Nigerians everywhere, this is the time to unseal your eyes, and participate in the new political culture that is unfolding. We all have a collective interest, to end this insidious threat posed by aliens-for-hire, that has disrupted peace and well-being of Nigeria as a sovereign and democratic nation. Most of these aliens have played deadly role in Boko Haram crisis, and recent havoc in Kaduna, Kano, and Bauchi States. Some are elements of Janjaweed from Sudan, Al Qaida ‘wannabe’ from Niger that infiltrated into Nigeria from porous Northern borders. And now, the most recent suicide bomb attack at Abuja National Police Headquarter, and bomb attacks in Maiduguri; are very sad and constant reminder of the danger Nigeria faces!
As an example, to illustrate the profoundly serious and disturbing nature of the illegal aliens inside Nigerian society fabric; a soldier with the S & T (Supply and Transport) Unit, at Abakaliki Military Cantonment, died in an accident in April 2011. The Military tried to contact next-of-kin, without success! No next-of-kin was ever located anywhere in Nigeria!! He was later buried in a public cemetery in Kaduna. The floating story was that he came from Sudan; a Sudanese-Arab in Nigerian Army? No proper documentation of this man was done by the Military about his nationality. He has grown-up children, who have no knowledge of the root of their father; except for their Nigerian-born mother. He probably married this woman to legitimize his stay in the North. Fundamental question is: “How many more illegal noncitizens are in the Nigerian Military, one of our revered national institutions?”
It is obviously a daunting task for His Excellency, President Goodluck, to lead a strong, vibrant and stable country with such threats from terrorist attacks. He should convene his National Security Team, to act soonest to root out such moles. He needs to set up a body to investigate any undocumented elements serving in Nigerian Military. This will deny all Dingbats and Wingnuts any opportunity to disrupt the country, or we may face very uncertain future.
Challenge to Peace by Boko Haram Group
Boko Haram members are religious Wingnuts, whose views and actions are toxic, divisive and hateful. The inconvenient truth about this group, is that they hope to achieve their goal through violent means. The congenital flaws among them, is that they forgot that NIGERIA is a country formed as a ‘marriage’ of generous commitment by diverse ethnic groups; a ‘Nuclear Family’ that could easily break-up as Boko Haram group continues to drive the country down a slippery slope by vicious and deadly attacks. The agenda is to reverse the election result and “restore debunked culture of entitlement that innately embodies Divine Right to Rule”. A highly undemocratic but theocratic ideology that will be unacceptable to Nigerians! In short, this group is seeking to establish an asymmetric Federalism, embracing special status for Northerners!! It is Islamic, fundamentalist, extremist, and Jihadi agenda, with membership, and supporters from outside and from within the country. It is a wake-up call for the National Security and Law Enforcement team. After all, Boko Haram, has as its ‘street marks’; fear tactics, political instability, death and destruction, all pointing towards economic stagnation. Boko Haram, represents politics of gloom and doom, and a‘Cliffhanger’ that must be exorcised from Nigerian psyche.
Impacts of Illegal Aliens
∙ On Health: without proper medical screening offered to legal immigrants and visitors, there will be the resurgence of diseases (TB, Leprosy, parasitic infections). Many diseases have been confronted and defeated by the broad distribution of vaccines. But, through the surge of illegal and undocumented immigrants into Nigeria, it would be virtually impossible to eradicate such diseases as polio, chickenpox, Onchocerciasis, Bilharzia, or effectively manage HIV/AIDS.
Then, there are powerful traditions and mystic beliefs that could pit Voodoo againstVaccines in the fight, to prevent the preventable diseases (pneumonia, polio) in children. Voodoo is practiced in Nigeria’s neighbours (Togo, Benin, Niger, Chad, and parts of Nigeria). But with such outside influence (illegal immigrants), it will compound the Nigeria’s experience to better its health care system.
∙ On Crimes: illegal aliens contribute to hit-and-run accidents (unlicensed to kill, uninsured drivers). They play active role in human trafficking across the border. The rise in illegal border-crossing by Niger and Chadians, has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards, extending from farmer-exploiters of this contraband labour market, to the politicians in times of Federal and State Elections, in the North.
∙ On Education: the burden and the cost of the resources in educating children of illegal aliens are simply unsustainable. Secondly, the background of these illegal immigrants are poor and from different system of education. A quick reference to abolition of the system is evident in one of the demands made by Boko Haram group, which is to do away with Western System of Education!
∙ On Election: Illegal immigrants distort senatorial representation. They play active role in culture of violence and voter fraud by noncitizens in violation of Federal law. This is a Federal crime. The politically powerful people are still fueling the flow of illegal aliens for their own selfish and unpatriotic gains.
A term limit should be set, to discourage these former presidents from Military, to seek for re-election. They have had their chance at governing, and should stay out of Presidential Politics. The country needs new candidates with fresh ideas, but not to return to politics of entitlement and divisiveness.
∙ On Security: lack of enhanced measures, has allowed influx of ‘terrorists’ with fraudulent passports (counterfeited) into Nigeria. The idea of ECOWAS, will be readily exploited by criminals entering the border as Visa requirements are not applicable for those from member States. This flawed security lapses at the borders must be addressed with utmost urgency. It should be reviewed in the light of recent wave of violence by Boko Haram and those martyrdom-seekers. Canada-US Border relationship can be an excellent template for Nigeria and its neighbours. This immigration policy change at the border, would deny entry to those groups that aim to disrupt Nigeria’s true identity, ethnic harmony and political stability.
How To Stop Flow Of Illegal Immigrants Into Nigeria.
- Transfer certain entrenched immigration officials out of the border area to other regions of the country where their political connections would have no effect.
- Crack down hard on employers who hire illegals. Without jobs, the aliens won’t come. End policy of ‘Catch-and-Release’, but implement a policy of “Catch-and-Return” for illegal aliens apprehended at the border.
- All travelers to our Ports of Entry to use Passports or other similar secure documents. Expand Exit Requirements so persons who overstay can be identified, prosecuted according to Immigration Law.
- To examine unethical conduct by government officials who accept gifts and favours in exchange for special treatment of private individuals.
- New technology must be harnessed to battle against illegal immigration.
- Embassies to submit the list of their nationals in Nigeria for security clearance. Nationals from ECOWAS member states must present authentic passports, same as immigration procedures for USA and Canada. It is now more urgent for Nigeria – a potential target for terrorist attack. No passport, no entry; ECOWAS or AU Membership, notwithstanding.
The potential for fraud by noncitizens in Nigerian Elections is real. Not just a potential issue, but is an actual problem. With presidential and other elections turning on very few votes, voting by noncitizen voters may change the outcome of elections.
The recent spate of violence in the States of Bauchi, Kaduna and Kano following the April 2011 Presidential election, has created a sense of urgency about illegal immigration. To cut off this illegal traffic, the President should quickly and decisively post fresh Border Patrol agents.
For those inside the country, this means regular worksite inspection, worker validation, employer sanctions, and deportations. Penalties for violating immigration law must be increased. Document fraud and racketeering crimes should be punishable to the full extent of the law.
It is insulting to our national adherence to the rule of law to confer domestic political power on persons illegally in the country. The size of the illegal alien population has become so large that this issue should no longer be ignored by the nation’s policymakers or the courts.
The combination of fences, all-weather roads, technology and adequate staffing, backed by Mobile Patrol behind the border, will have a positive impact on the war against illegal aliens and terrorism.
It is most important always to remember that terrorism is REAL, and no country is terrorist-proof.
The Credo: “To Preserve and Protect Our Borders.”