The entire population of Nigerians in the UK has allegedly reported to be in excess of 2m – a number made up of both documented and non documented citizens and a number larger than some African nations.
Within this number, we must have have a great number of people with typical needs an cares as you will have in any community – like the displaced, the poor, the needy, the homeless, the unemployed etc
My problem however, is that many charities and initiatives that are established here in the UK seem to focus mainly in rendering help towards needs back in Nigeria. While I must stress the point that I have absolutely nothing against sending help and support back to Nigeria, here in the Uk is now whether we like it or not, home for a great number of us and as the saying goes, “Charity begins at home”
I have a bit of a problem with initiatives that raise funds to send towards initiatives back home – to Nigeria from where people take weekend trips for shopping and to attend weddings. Nigeria where people easily buy brand new tear rubber wonders on wheels – direct from the factory? Nigeria in where people dash out gold plated Ipads at weddings and give out live goats, cows and sheep as party souvenirs.
Most of us here in the UK will have to save up for at least 6 months to be able to afford a ticket to Naija and the most you can expect as a party souvenir even after spending £150 pounds on Aso Ebi (£50 to buy, £100 to sew) is a £2.50 crockery set from Ikea!!
The only way that the few of us that actually drive second hand new vehicles is to “san die-die” (hire purchase) Otherwise, it is a spanking new 5 or 6 year old – the closest many can actually get to driving a new car!
Us folks living in the Uk pay out much more in bills and taxes and penalties etc that most people of working age in Nigeria would ever pay in their life time. (mortgage, high rents, income tax, bedroom tax, council tax, road tax, tv licence, insurance of every kind like national insurance, car insurance, building insurance, tv, fridge, sky box, game box, home contents, boiler, plumbings, heating etc etc etc insurance… ) many folks in the UK simply just manage to get by. Loads of families are struggling and more are living on the breadline – even where both parents in the family are working.
In many single parent homes, living is a real struggle. Making ends meets is a major heartache for many and with just one income coming into the home, many are living with terrible arrears on many bills. Benefits are not the easy option they used to be as the government must sit back and gleefully rub their hands together at every opportunity they find to cut or take away welfare benefits from vulnerable folks that really need them.
How then can some initiatives here in the UK ignore people like these living among us to raise funds to send to people back in Nigeria? Where is the charity in sending money to folks living among many rich folks when there are more poor and displaced among us here that can do with all the help they can get?
More questionable when we are talking of a Nigeria where us in the Diaspora have little or no say in the affairs of Nigeria. During the elections, thousands of pounds were raised from folks in the Diaspora towards various election campaigns back home but surprisingly, we do not have a say in who gets elected – as we still do not yet have a vote.
Reportedly, the entire Diaspora population already pours an annual eye watering N30b into the Nigerian economy through money transfers, business start-ups. fees on cargoes and shipping, personal gifts to family and friends and airport taxes. Yet we cannot vote or have a say in whom our elected leaders are or how the country is run – except of course through blogs and facebook posts.
Yes we can make all the noise about Buhari and GEJ but do these folks really see us in the Diaspora? How many Diasporans (God! I hate that word!!) are actually going to be part of the new cabinets or have the privilege of national appointments – Im waiting to see…..
The point of this long rant is to remind ourselves that we need to take care of the needy and vulnerable in our midst here first. Nigeria really should be able to take care of her own folks back home. We shouldn’t continue to pump the Diaspora money into Nigeria when Nigeria really isn’t giving anything back to the Diaspora.
Remember – Charity begins at home. Let us remember those at home here that need our charity.
28 May 2015