Nigeria-rp colorsThis is about the Philippine government’s ban (also called partial ban) on new OFWs to Nigeria.

The premise of the ban is that Nigeria is very unstable and stands side-by-side with Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of security risks. Their basis was the spate of kidnappings in the oil region of Nigeria which involved Filipino workers.

Yes, we agree that the government should ensure the safety of OFWs wherever they maybe found. To put a ban on countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Rwanda maybe justifiable. To put Nigeria on the same list is an ‘overaction’ — absurd.

What is it in Nigeria that deserves this ban?

 Nigeria is the largest and the richest of the West African countries. It’s primary source of wealth is now petroleum.

Oil is mostly found in the Niger Delta or the South-South of Nigeria. It is in this area that most Filipinos are found since majority of oil companies and support companies hire Filipinos.

That is why whenever there is a kidnapping, most likely Filipinos will be involved. But then, so are other nationals.

British, Americans, Italians, Chinese, Koreans and Lebanese have their share of being the object of kidnapping. The kidnapping has become a routine — kidnap-ransom-release — since the kidnappers are disgruntled citizens of the areas.

I work and live in Lagos. By far, Lagos is relatively peaceful. In fact, i can freely walk along the streets with my cellphone glued to my ear without fear of snatching. I surely won’t do that in the streets of Manila.

Is Nigeria really a dangerous country to work with?

I dare to say No. Like any other Third World countries – like the Philippines – it has its own share of crimes. But not as bad (or out-of-control) as Iraq.

Are these kidnappings in oil areas a mirror of the entire state of security in Nigeria?
No. outside of those oil regions, situation is generally peaceful and life is basically laidback.

As mentioned, foreign nationals have been kidnapped also (and some got killed) but their countries never slapped a ban on Nigeria, other than a travel advisory warning.

Home front

Looking at the Philippine security situation, it ‘maybe’ assumed that with the trouble in Jolo/Sulu, the entire Southern Philippines is unsafe for travel for expats. With the regularity and casuality of snatching and PUJ and bank robberies, Metro Manila is a very unsafe place to live.

Now, if the government disagree to that assumption, then it is safe to say the ban on Nigeria on the basis of kidnapping issue in oil areas is also incorrect, if not ill-advised.

Heroes of the new mellineum?

The ban on Nigeria is like a sentencing the applying OFWs to an indefinite life of hardship in the Philippines. Here is one country (Nigeria) gracious and willing to hire OFWs – -the heroes of the new mellineum – and then here comes the Philippine government preventing the new OFWs their chance to help themselves and the economy.

The continued ban on new hires in Nigeria is a testament of the government’s seeming inability to make a consistent decision on the OFWs deployment. The government is more pre-occupied with politicking than in the realities of our nation’s economy.

Rather than coordinating with the Nigerian government for the protection of OFWs, the Philippine government sees it as more convenient to just declare a ban so that it will not find itself to blamed if an OFW – legal or illegal – is put at risk.

If someday, 20 Filipinos get kidnap in Saudi, I doubt if the government will ever slap a ban against Saudi.

Kelu Shele

As they say here in Nigeria – “kelu shele?” — What’s happening? Well, nothing’s happening. Sorry for the New Hire (NH) to Nigeria.

I suggest New Hire to Nigeria still stranded in Manila write mail to their Congressmen or to some Senators to review this Nigeria ban.