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Nigeria at 60: Protests mark celebration in Germany

IN the cities of Frankfurt and Heilbronn, in Germany, Nigerian-born German residents swarmed the streets to mark the Nigeria’s Independence Day anniversary.

A day which, in former years and decades, Nigerians living in Germany had once celebrated with parties and jovial get-togethers, has become in recent times the occassion for protests, demonstrations and the airing of bitter complaints against the state of Nigeria.

In Frankfurt, armed with placards and a megaphone, a group of aggrieved Nigerians gathered in front of the Nigerian Consulate to call for President Buhari’s resignation and the repatriation of the ambassador as well as the consular general. They tabled a long line of grievances that included the lack of infrastructure in Nigeria, the unsafe security situation, as well as endemic corruption. In addition they complained about poor consular services from the Nigerian Consulate.

Their demands, under the slogan “Together We Stand, according to organisers Comrade Kelly Koko and Comrade Prince Abiola, and reiterated by Mr Anthony ‘Agidigbi’ Clement are:

  • End to insecurity across the country.
  • End to youth unemployment.
  • End to darkness generation.
  • End to corruption in government.
  • End to intimidation of protesters.
  • End to killing of IPOB members.
  • End to foreign medical trips for Nigerian politicians.
  • Immediate release of political prisoners.
  • End to Chinese loans in exchange for Nigeria’s sovereignty.

Payment of realistic living wages to workers, not just 30k.

Similarly, in Heilbronn in southwestern Germany, the organisation known as the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), consisting mainly of indigenes from southeastern and southsouthern Nigeria staged a demonstration at the office of the Mayor of Heilbronn where they formally voiced a complaint against Nigeria.

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The National Coordinator of IPOB, Germany, Collins Chineduh, rejected the notion of an Independence Day Celebration, saying there was nothing to celebrate because “Nigeria is not an independent country. Nigeria is a British business center,” he stated. He equally railed against the killing of Christians in Nigeria, stretching “from Biafraland to the Middle Belt, and from Oduduwa in the West to the Christians of the North,” Mr. Chineduh insisted.

The National Coordinator of IPOB, Germany, Collins Chineduh, rejected the notion of an Independence Day Celebration, saying there was nothing to celebrate because “Nigeria is not an independent country. Nigeria is a British business center,” he stated. He equally railed against the killing of Christians in Nigeria, stretching “from Biafraland to the Middle Belt, and from Oduduwa in the West to the Christians of the North,” Mr. Chineduh insisted.

In addition to demands similar to those made by the protesters in Frankfurt, the IPOB protesters in Heilbronn used the occasion of their presence at the office of the Mayor of Heilbronn to repeat their well-known call for a referendum on the topic of Biafra. (Biafra is the name of the breakaway republic, east of the River Niger, whose thrust for independence was dashed in the 30-month long Nigerian-Biafran Civil War which lasted from 1967 -1970.)

IRONICALLY, both groups of protesters, in Frankfurt and Heilbronn complained bitterly about the quality — or lack thereof — of the service offered by the Nigerian Consulate in Germany. They spoke of long waiting times, stretching up to nine months, and of a lack of transparency concerning the issue of the fees paid.

In Frankfurt, there was no official of the Consulate at hand to comment on this or any of the other complaints.

The very fact of the mood swing in the nature and manner of commemorating Nigerian Independence amongst Nigerians living in Germany, is in itself an indictment of Nigeria.

Whereas Nigerians in Germany used to look forward to 1st October each year with plans of joyous parties and celebratory get-togethers, now it is with protest plans and demonstration determination that they approach 1st October. Each year. So also this year. This, in a way, is that evidence of another damning report card on the Nigeria project.

Che Chukwumerije writes from Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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