By Femi Iyanda
Facts have emerged why most Nigerians resident in other European countries are sad about BREXIT.
Until the sad exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, most Nigerians resident in EU countries like Italy, France, Germany, Belgium among others consider their sojourn in these countries as temporary and a stepping stone to the possibility of finally settling in the UK.
The system functions like this; most immigrants after a certain period of legal residence in European countries can apply for citizenship of these countries. For instance in Italy, it is after ten years of residence that a foreigner can apply but in Germany, it is eight years. In France, it only takes five years to apply for citizenship.
Because of the European Union charter on free border, a foreigner that has acquired the citizenship of any of the European Union countries can choose to settle in any other member nation to work and live legitimately.
As a result of the historical ties, language and cultural affinities Nigerians have with the British – being the colonial master of Nigeria for years – coupled with a robust social welfare system and the pound sterling’s strong exchange value, the United Kingdom is the ultimate destination of most Nigerians resident in other European countries.
Most Nigerians also consider the possibility of raising their children in the United Kingdom where English Language is the mother tongue unlike other EU countries like Italy, Germany, Belgium France and so on.
Raising children in these non-English speaking countries is very complicated and challenging as it is often difficult for the children to catch up with English Language when they grow up because they are taught and raised with Italian, German or French languages (as the case may be). This makes it difficult for most of them to integrate and interact when eventually they found themselves in Nigeria, either for holidays or other purpose.
With the exit of UK from the European Union, the possibility of most Nigerians who dream to relocate to Britain to start new lives with their newly acquired European citizenship is now dim and they see the sacrifice of long years under terrible immigration condition as one that is not worth it.
For example, it is almost impossible for a Nigerian immigrant without adequate knowledge of either Italian, German, French or Belgian language to work in an office in these countries. Whereas, if they are able to move to the United Kingdom, especiaĺly the educated ones, it is easier to find a job relevant to their academic qualifications before they left Nigeria. This is almost impossible in most other European countries as an immigrant is forced to first learn their languages.
As the situation is now, the only hope for most of these Nigerian immigrants is a possible relaxed EU nationals border movement that will pave way for free human and labour movement between the United Kingdom and other European Union nations that will not shatter their long held dream of making Britain their final destinations in Europe.