Coordinator of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) in Guangdong Province, China, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, has raised the alarm over the maltreatment being meted to Nigerians in China, saying that the condition of his countrymen and women in that country should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
According to him, many Nigerians are suffering and stranded in China as they are not allowed to enter their homes, hotels and supermarkets.
Initially, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made a statement that some of the videos showing Nigerians were being maltreated in China were false, but he later admitted that they had got information that Nigerians in China were actually being maltreated. From what I heard from him the other day, he said that he had instructed the acting ambassador to provide him with the details of how Nigerians are being treated, that they are going to take it up. This is confirming what we have been saying.
China feels that foreigners are importing the disease into China, especially in that Guangdong Province, where Guangzhou city is. So, they started making things difficult for blacks.
Forty per cent of Nigerians that reside in Guangzhou are businessmen and women, which means they are on business trip. So, when this thing started, those that were in hotels that had been quarantined were refused or rejected from entering their rooms anymore. That’s why many Nigerians were seen on the streets. There were 400 Nigerians outside. After quarantine by some at home, their landlords refused them entry into their apartments. That’s is why the acting ambassador was angry with the Chinese authorities. He said that they should quarantine everybody in the city. And if they want to go to the homes of Nigerians, the embassy should be notified. The people who were quarantined for up to 28 days tested negative. From what I heard, the number of people that tested positive is not up to five.
The publication by a newspaper that scores of Nigerians tested positive for COVID-19 in China is a lie from the pit of hell. To the best of my knowledge, as NIDO coordinator in that region and from what the president-general of the Nigerian community in China shared with me, the number of Nigerians that tested positive for COVID-19 is not up to five and most of them have been discharged. So, we don’t know where the paper got the information from. The Nigerian consulate in Guangzhou is very angry about that.
We also want to debunk the claim that there is a certain Nigerian woman that runs a restaurant in Guangzhou that has coronavirus. We have conducted an investigation and we have no information about that that.
The main problem now is that many Nigerians are stranded. The Nigerian Union and NIDO have been meeting with Guangdong authority to solve this problem. From the information reaching me now, some of the Nigerians have returned to their homes, while some were not allowed to enter their homes by their landlords. So many people are still stranded; Nigerians are suffering. Despite the dialogue with Chinese authorities, some Nigerians are still on the streets. Some of them have no access to public buildings like supermarkets and hotels. Even entering a taxi is difficult. We want to commend the government for making efforts to evacuate them, but when will that be? Many of them have no place to lay their heads. One Nigerian who has lived in China for 25 years, married to a Chinese woman, was not allowed to enter a supermarket. So, having access to food is a problem. You can imagine what made the acting ambassador to flare up. It has never happened anywhere in the world: an ambassador going round distributing food, crying that Nigerians are suffering.
Another problem we encounter as holders of Nigerian passport is that it is very difficult to open an office there because of their policy. This makes us wonder about the kind of bilateral trade agreement that Nigeria and China has. We are made to know that, in Africa, Nigeria is the largest trade partner with China. So, we residents in China think we deserve a better deal. In Guongzhou where I reside, there are three markets and statistics have shown that the transactions between Nigerian traders and their Chinese suppliers is worth between $20 million and $30 million daily. Even the Chinese government knows that Nigerians are the mainstay of those markets because of the kind of transactions going on there. And we all know that 80 per cent of what we consume comes from China.
We pray that NIDO should be involved with other stakeholders in the minister’s investigation of China. I am calling on Nigerians in China to be law-abiding and not to take the law into their hands, but there is no need to stereotype Nigerians.
I also commend Hon. Benjamin Kalu and members of the House of Representatives who have resolved to investigate the legality of Chinese nationals living in Nigeria for possible repatriation back to their country.
I also want to praise Fonshan authorities in Guangdong that granted amnesty to Nigerian passport holders for visa extension for one month. I, therefore, urge Nigerians in China to take the advantage to perfect their documents.