Nigerians condemn racist visa policies as US Mission in Nigeria joins Black Lives Matter protest

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The US Mission in Nigeria on Monday identified with Black Lives Matter protesters back home by sharing photos of its workers kneeling in solidarity.

In addition to the images shared on its social media pages, the US mission shared a message which read thus: “Today at 12:00 noon [WAT] the entire U.S. Embassy Abuja community joined together in 84 seconds of silence in solidarity with those at home and around the world protesting the murders of George Floyd and others. This is marking two weeks since George uttered the words “I can’t breathe” numerous times before his tragic death. Now, it is time for healing, for compassion, greater communication, and increased understanding. We sincerely hope that all of us, Americans and Nigerians, will learn from this episode and use it as inspiration to create a better world.”

Also, in a statement shared on its website last week, the US Mission commended some Nigerians that had showed up at  its Embassy in Abuja and consulate in Lagos to protest Floyd’s killing.

The statement read, “This week, at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and our Consulate in Lagos, Nigerians rallied to express their dismay at the brutal death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and call for justice. We salute their peaceful expression of solidarity in support of the ideals of equal justice. They join many Americans who are similarly outraged by what transpired and we have seen them express their shock, grief, frustration, and anger in many parts of the United States. We in the U.S. Mission are not immune to these feelings and like the Secretary of State we find the actions that led to the death of Mr. Floyd abhorrent. His death was a tragedy and never should have happened. The highest officials in the United States on both the state and federal levels have pledged that there will be accountability for what transpired.

“Now, it is time for healing, for compassion, greater communication, and increased understanding. It has been said that this episode exposes some of the faults in the United States. We must agree. The United States is hardly perfect. What has truly made the American multi-ethnic, multi-racial democratic experiment impressive in our eyes has been its ability to reform itself and become a fairer, more inclusive, and more equal society over time. We should hope that this tragedy will mark a turning point. As Dr. King famously said, “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” We sincerely hope that all of us, Americans and Nigerians, will learn from this episode and use it as inspiration to create a better world.”

While many Nigerians have commended these efforts, others are not so impressed, and have seized the opportunity to express dismay at the difficulty involved in getting visas at the embassy and consulate.

Stories abound of many Nigerians that have been denied visas multiple times without tangible reasons after fulfilling all requirements, including paying the exorbitant nonrefundable application fees and queuing for extended periods, sometimes for days.

The Herald recalls how hundreds of Nigerians had disagreed in April 2019 when the US Mission said its visa officers were not always happy denying the visa applications of Nigerians.

“Contrary to popular opinion, visa officers do not enjoy handing anyone the 214b refusal letter,” the mission had written on Facebook, adding that a Facebook Live session would be held to educate Nigerians on how to improve their visa applications.

Reacting, a Nigerian, Akufai Valentine Jonah, wrote, , “I had a terrible experience in 2013. I got a scholarship to attend a conference in Denver but was denied a visa. I was not angry because I was denied a visa. I was angry with the manner of the disrespect from the consular officer.

“Imagine giving one that refusal letter and you are told ‘off you go’ without any tangible explanation, after reading the letter, it states that I don’t have strong ties to my country either through being married, neither do I have a job and back then I used to work with an NGO and it was clearly stated in my application. I have forgotten the third excuse.

“I just laughed and left, I know people who are single then and are still single today that have got US visas. I know people who have no job but have got a US visa, I know people who had zero travel records but were granted US visa. Since that episode, I have never ever applied for a US visa because I don’t have any business there for now.”

Some of those who flayed the kneeling show, noted that after the USA separated families by slave trade and visa lotteries, mission officials continue to ensure black communities stay weak, disconnected and disenfranchised by preventing people with close family ties from traveling to the USA despite charging exorbitant fees for same persons to apply.

They explained that this is particularly worrisome as African immigrants especially immigrants from Nigeria have the highest education levels in USA, although the country seemingly continues to implement a racist policy of keeping hard working and highly skilled Nigerians out of their country so as to continue to keep black communities economically disenfranchised.

“Their protest is nothing but eye service,” a weary visa applicant stated.

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