Thursday, November 7, 2013

Crack down on Nigerians in Goa – Drugs – Threat of retaliation et all

The death of a Nigerian national and the clash that followed in Goa has thrown open a diplomatic row between India and Nigeria. “Indians living in Nigeria will be thrown out on streets if Nigerians in Goa are targeted”, conveyed a Nigerian diplomat - Jacob Nwadibia, an administrative attaché at the mission on Nov 5th 2013. A Nigerian national was found dead at Mapusa near Panaji last week.

What is happening in Goa is nothing new or surprising. Drug running on the coastal tourist belt has always been there; the menace itself and the enormity of the problem may not have been publicly acknowledged hitherto. Collusion with the locals, lax policing and big moolaha, have all joined hands in bringing about the present impasse. Few Russian and Israeli tourists are also hand in glove in this racket.

What is of utmost concern is the threat conveyed by ‘Jacob Nwadibia’. Whether he is a loose cannon, acting on his own or the entire threat package was stage managed by the mission remains to be seen. Unwittingly Nwadibia has released a totally new and potent weapon into the diplomatic arena. It has all the elements of ‘Jungle Justice’ – Tit for tat. This new development is a cause for concern to all Indians living abroad. By 2050 every 5th person will be an Indian.

Even though separated by two oceans and 5000 miles, India and Nigeria have been friends from a very long time. We were both under the British rule and part of the Common Wealth. It is very interesting to note that India developed a relationship with Nigeria in spite of the distance.

The Indian High Commission web site reports “. India is currently Nigeria’s second largest trading partner. With a population of 168 million and considerable revenue from oil exports, Nigeria is the largest trading partner of India in Africa. Nigeria is also the largest market in Africa for Indian exports.  A large number of Indian companies have footprints in Nigeria, which have made substantial investments in Nigeria. Bilateral annual trade turnover was over US$ 17.3 billion in 2011-12 registering the growth of over 34%. During 2012-13, our exports further grew by 1.33% even though the bilateral trade slightly declined to $ 16.8 billion.

The above economic angle has attracted as many as 40,000 Indians to live and work in Nigeria. The Indian traders play a large role in the relationship between the two countries. The Indian Defence forces have also played a very significant role in strengthening the bilateral relationship. A number of Nigerian Army, Air Force and Naval officers were trained in India at the National Defence Academy Khadakvasla Pune.  Presidents - Buhari, Babangida and Obasanjo were trained in India. The list is endless. Their National Defence Academy at Kaduna, Naval Academy at Onura Port Harcourt, B and D school at Lagos were set up with Indian help.

An incident which happened way back in 1987 is of interest to all of us. Los Angeles Times reported - October 23, 1987 - India announced it will pay $32 million to Nigeria in a negotiated settlement of a drug-smuggling case involving charges against three crew members of the Indian national airline. The announcement, by India's diplomatic mission in Lagos, was followed by departure from Lagos of an Air-India A-310 Airbus that had been impounded for two months under threat of confiscation. Charges of cocaine smuggling against the crew members were dropped, and the three accused were aboard the Airbus when it left. An Indian Army officer, who knew President Babangida personally, is reported to have flown to Lagos to help resolve the issue.

There is an urgent need for people who matter in Goa, New Delhi and Abuja to sit and talk to break the deadlock.

In the mean time mandarins in the Ministry of External Affairs need to take cognizance of ‘Nwadibia Bomb’ and devise methods to defuse. In years to come Indian Expats will be targeted for follies of their brethren at home.

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