11 July, 2008

AFRICAN WOMEN & MIGRATION

Nigerian govt has a lot to thank the Irish govt - Pamela Toyin

By Taiwo Akinlembola - updated: Friday 11-07-2008

Her book, 'Herstory', highlights the plight of African women who migrated to Ireland because of different bitter experiences they had in their countries.

In this chat with Taiwo Akinlembola, Pamela Toyin Akinjobi, author of the book, spoke on reasons why many Africans flee their countries and her experience with African migrants, especially Nigerians in Ireland.

As a journalist and a writer, Toyin Akinjobi stated that she had seen and come across a lot of immigrants in Ireland, especially Nigerians who took refuge in the country because they could no longer cope with the situation in the country.

She relayed the example of a family who had to leave the country to resettle in Ireland because of the incessant armed robbery attacks on their home in Lagos. She has also come across a lot of Nigerians who come into Ireland with visiting visas and would refuse to go back home at the expiration of their visas.

"Majority of them stay back with the intention of getting into the United Kingdom through the 'back-door', while some come into Ireland through the same channel. "Most Nigerian women who come into Ireland from the UK do so because of the fact that they know if you have a child in Ireland, the mother would get a residency and the child automatically becomes a citizen and he/she is entitled to every opportunity in Ireland.

The circumstances which brought Nigerians to Ireland are different, but it all borders on the fact that Nigerians are not getting the expected social support from Nigeria."For instance, a lot of I.T experts are recruited from Nigeria and are employed in Ireland. I know of a guy who was made a director in a leading company immediately he got to Ireland. Think of what his expertise would have done to our fatherland, Nigeria. A lot of Nigerians graduates are hanging around the country without jobs.

"Sometime ago, during one of my talk shows, an Irish woman who was very furious asked me why many Nigerians are residing in Ireland.According to her, 'there is money in Nigeria and there are available resources, why are they here? All they do is take away our own resources, milk the Irish government dry and so many things like that. At least we hear that there is a lot of money in Nigeria.' I answered her that, it is not all the time that you switch on your TV set and watch war recordings that there is war going on. Even when the situation is calm, people experience internal war, and this is wiping out generations. People die everyday from suffering. In Nigeria you have to fight for everything — transportation, water, medical treatment etc.

"For example, a Nigerian from Benue State who has lived in Ireland for 33 years, has a school and a computer college there asked me to do a brochure on Benue State indigenes who live in Ireland for her. She told me that back home in her local government area, people were dying of cholera as a result of lack of potable water. She showed me some pictures, you can't believe such things still exist. She tried to help but according to her she encountered a lot of problems as the chairman was unsupportive at the initial stage.

"Our leaders in Nigeria have a lot to think about and a lot of things must be changed so that people will be encouraged to come back home. Take a look at the epileptic nature of the PHCN. A lot of businessmen and women barely make profit as all that should be their profit goes into buying diesel to run generating sets. My sister is a victim, I always wonder how she makes it.

The health sector is also zero. I once lost a cousin to a medical personnel's incompetence. The Nigerian government has a lot to thank the Irish government for, because of the way pregnant women are being taken care of over there in Ireland. A grandma recently came on visitation to Ireland and her daughter-in-law fell into labour.

The old woman coming with the Nigerian mentality insisted on accompanying her to the hospital, in case she would need to help her if she would need some extra things. She was surprised at the way everything went and the reception she herself got at the hospital.

"Here in Nigeria, another bane of the nation is maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. The medical facilities available for the care of pregnant women are zero.

"Most Nigerians do not want to come back home to all these hardships after living in a different environment where everything works the way it should. Some would even tell you that they prefer to die or rot away in jail abroad instead of coming home to suffer.

"I believe our government should begin to take positive steps to correct some of these inadequacies so that people can stay and stop migrating from Nigeria."

In the book Herstory, Pamela Toyin Akinjobi writes stories of different women from different parts of Africa and the painful separation from their homes, families and friends despite the fact they are leaving behind some forms of trauma.

Pamela Toyin is a writer, an immigrant who has lived in Ireland for many years. She started her writing career in Ireland with the Metro Eireann, Ireland's first and only multi- cultural newspaper. She was also a part of the organisers of the most Beautiful African Girl beauty pageant and she also anchors her own business and talkshow - Pamela Toyin Talk Show.



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