by Chi Ibe
Nigerians in Malaysia have complained that they are no longer feeling the hospitality of Malaysians; the society, the authorities, and even the schools have turned against them.
Recently, AllAfrica.com reported that a Nigerian PhD student had a meeting with his university’s registry and was told that the university would no longer admit Nigerians. The PhD student was told that even though Nigerians were doing well; the activities of Nigerians in other places especially drug related, like in Kuala Lumpur, was serious cause of uneasiness.
Nigerians who are the victims of the crimes committed by other Nigerians believe that they were being targeted for no justifiable reason.
See excerpts from the AllAfrica article:
Interestingly, Nigerians, of the many Africans in this university, do well compared to others. Three of them (from both North and South of Nigeria) earned international awards for the university within four months. This fact, although acknowledged by the university, didn’t mitigate the blanket ban of Nigerians.
At the same university, a group of Africans from another country had broken into some rooms in the hostels and stole laptops of other students. Although these undergraduate students were deported, no sweeping policy was devised against students from that country.
The legality of targeting Nigerians is arguable; however, there are certain reasons for these actions.
In its Independence Day edition of 2011, Weekly Trust reported that the Malaysian police chief said Nigerians had taken over the drug business from the Iranians. Also, “Selangor State deputy police chief, Datuk A. Thaiveegan, said penultimate Friday, a 23-year-old Nigerian woman was arrested at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) when she tried to bring in 2kg of syabu (Amphetamines) worth RM500,000 (N26 million) in her luggage.
Two days before, on 21 September, three Nigerian men were arrested in a hotel with drugs worth N13 million. And four days before that, on 17 September, another Nigerian woman was arrested at KLIA with drugs worth N40 million concealed in 600 sticks of lip gloss. This brings a total of Nigerians arrested in one week to five with N79 million worth of drugs.”
That wave of arrests that reached a peak towards the end of 2011, has not abated.
Why Nigerians come to Malaysia
Malaysia holds an attraction for three categories of Nigerians for three different purposes. The first group is that of Nigerians who are looking for affordable postgraduate degrees and who are usually refused sponsorship from their places of work or the Nigerian government; because of the affordable postgraduate tuition in Malaysia.
Recently, the leader of Malaysian body of dean of postgraduate schools said the government subsidizes each foreign postgraduate with RM25,000 (N3 million) per year. This category of Nigerians are also attracted by the quality of equipment in the universities, which are comparable to those in Western countries – although, sometimes, students have to wait a long time for the universities to purchase some of the equipment. But there are many students who have done their master’s degrees in Europe who are now doing their PhD in Malaysia and who say there’s not much difference between what obtains in Malaysia and what they saw in Europe.
The second category is that of well-off undergraduate students. Their parents – usually from Northern Nigeria – believe that Malaysia is a Muslim country, therefore, if they send their children here, they’ll not go back home with decadent Western values.
These parents can afford to send their children to Western countries and are not attracted by cheap tuition in Malaysia.
Indeed, the private colleges where their wards study are not cheap; many give out UK degrees, which are as expensive as studying at source.
The third group is that of Nigerians – mostly from the South – who equate living abroad to success. They’ll do anything to achieve that aim.
They come to Malaysia because the entry visa is cheap and easy to get. And because they know that the best way to stay in the country, is to come as students, they usually do all they can to get offers to study at the private colleges.
Those who don’t have the necessary qualifications to study as degree students, pretend to come to study certificate courses – usually in English language. Nigerians believe this is enough red flag to alert Malaysian authorities. “No Nigerian,” Mustapha Jibrin said, “will come to Malaysia to learn English.”
Nigerians believe they speak better English than Malaysians; so if they need to study the language, is it to Malaysia they’ll come? Anybody who comes to study English at the certificate level, most probably has another sinister purpose in Malaysia.”
This is the group of Nigerians who give others a bad name. There was a time that they kidnapped their own compatriots – Southern Nigerian criminals kidnapped Northern Nigerian undergraduates because (they said) the northerners stole their money.
The fading hospitality
Writing for the New Straits Times, on February 10, 2012, Datuk Dr. Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid, a university administrator, admonished his compatriots to “treat foreign students as we want our children to be treated abroad.”
Dr. Ibrahim concluded that the presence of foreign students in Malaysia is advantageous to both the students and the nation. “We should put our act together and develop enlightened policies and our own cultural refinements.
“Most of the 100,000 foreign students are willing learners who invest in their learning here and are very good in focusing on their studies. Our educational institutions have created opportunities for every one of them.
Besides learning from us, thousands of foreign students are engaged in knowledge generation at masters and doctoral levels and in other types of knowledge production though collaborative research,” he said.