The Plight Of Nigerians In War-Torn Libya


The black-skinned African has always been an object of attack whenever there is a crisis in North Africa where white-skinned Arabs live side by side the black African.

In the last few decades, whenever there is a crisis anywhere in North Africa, black-skinned Africans bear the brunt.

As early as February 2011 when a revolution began in Libya, the protesters who later metamorphosed into rebel fighters and guided by the National Transitional Council, NTC, were said to be targeting sub-Saharan Africans because they were suspected of be mercenaries hired by ousted Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi to fight on his side against the rebels.

As the war escalated, expatriates and West Africans including Nigerians were trapped and became the targets of the protesters. While other countries airlifted their citizens out of the troubled zone, Nigerians were abandoned to their fate until the battle became so fierce that they had to go into hiding to avoid being mistaken for Gaddafi’s mercenaries and be killed.

As the battle moved to Tripoli, the country’s capital, the crack down on Nigerians continued until about 200 of our citizens were arrested and detained in Salahdin, a part of the capital city.

Today, uncertainty surrounds the fate of these unfortunate migrants as they are at the mercy of the protesters who would not hesitate to kill these Nigerians. Though we have the assurance of the NTC leadership, Britain and France that black migrants would not be harmed, what is the Nigerian government doing to bring back home these trapped citizens? What would it cost this country to bring back these trapped Nigerians safely home?

According to the spokesman for the trapped men, they could not reach the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, while the Ambassador to Ethiopia who was told to take charge of the situation in Libya has remained incommunicado.

When the minister eventually spoke, he said no Nigerian has been attacked or harassed by forces loyal to the NTC in Libya. Ashiru said those attacked were Nigeriens and Malians and he was certain that no Nigerian had been attacked.

All very well, but we must express our dissatisfaction with the way our Federal Government responds to crisis, especially when it concerns Nigerians hurting in some faraway places. The government has the resources and the ability to respond better to this situation. It was not as if the government was not aware that other countries were airlifting their citizens out of the burning country, it was rather busy doing noting, playing politics with everything that comes its way.

If we cannot move swiftly to rescue our citizens from the jaws of death, what right do we have to demand they pay their taxes and obey constituted authority? Smaller and less powerful but better organised countries have since airlifted their citizens before the fight became fiercer and deadlier, but trust Nigeria, we refused to be moved by the deadly drama playing out in Libya and now about 200 Nigerians are trapped.

The Federal Government must change its methods. It must learn to be proactive and take firm decisions early enough when lives are in danger. We cannot treat the safety of Nigerians anywhere in the world with such levity and expect the people to be patriotic. It is the lack of concern for the wellbeing of Nigerians by the government that has created a situation where the citizens feel alienated and would do anything to show their disgust and even go to other countries to earn a living. It is this uncaring and cruel system that drove the Nigerians to Libya where they are now trapped. They must be brought back safely now.

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