A socio-cultural organisation, United for True Change has slammed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama over his statement that there are no reported cases of humiliation meted to Nigerians traveling to the United States.
The group in a statement by its Secretary- General, Ben Omonua on Thursday said by asking Nigerians to ignore the genuine advice given by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the “Minister has shown that he is not in tune with realities and does not care about the interest of Nigerians whom his ministry is meant to protect”.
While highlighting various cases of Nigerians who have been subjected to humiliation by US immigration officials despite having genuine documents and valid reasons for visiting the United States, the group who accused the minister of politicizing a serious national issue also asked him to apologise to Dabiri and Nigerians with immediate effect.
“This morning (Thursday) in some newspapers, we still read interviews of Nigerians who were humiliated and sent back to Nigeria despite having genuine proofs, legal documents and have not committed any known offence. Can the Minister claim not to have read about this? What steps has he taken to investigate it? For the minister to claim that there are no reported cases of Nigerians being subjected to degrading statement is a blatant lie and a calculated attempt to stand the truth on its head”.
“We commend Mrs Dabiri- Erewa for the genuine advice she gave. Unlike the Minister, Mrs Dabiri- Erewa has always devoted her public life to standing up for Nigerians even during her days in the National Assembly as the Chairman of the House of Reps Committee on Diaspora Affairs and it was based on her sterling performance that President Muhammadu Buhari appointed her as the SSA on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora”.
“ Is it a sin to advice people to be careful? She never said Nigerians should not travel to the US. What she said was that Nigerians should shelve non-essential travels while the case is being sorted out. An advice is not a policy. It is an advice that can either be taken or ignored and for the records, this is not the first time she has advised Nigerians on similar issues”.
“Based on daily reports of humiliation against Nigerians, we stand by the advice of Mrs Dabiri- Erewa that Nigerians who have no compelling or urgent reason to travel to the United States should postpone their travel plans until the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is clearer”.
“We reject any attempt by the Minister to play politics with serious national issues that affect the lives of Nigerians. This is a time for government to work hand-in-hand to protect our citizens, not for anybody to want to settle personal scores. Government officials must learn to work together and not at cross- purposes as displayed by the Minister” the group said.