The conduct of citizens living abroad defines the perception of Nigeria, no matter how brilliant the government’s foreign policies are, Geoffrey Onyeama, honorable minister for foreign affairs, said yesterday while featuring on Channel Television’s Sunday Politics.
The minister explained the role of the Nigerian government and citizens in shaping the perception of Nigeria abroad, and he urged Nigerians to always be on their best behaviour when abroad to improve the country’s image.
“We also need, as a people, to be putting our best foot forward when we’re in these countries, ” he said. “Unfortunately, we have a significant number of Nigerians that are really not representing the country in the way that they really should and this also has very negative impact and consequences on other Nigerians.”
Onyeama referenced the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visa ban as an example.
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“If we’re to be honest with ourselves, the UAE Visa was pretty easy for Nigerians to get. We had a lot of excellent Nigerians in the medical field, engineers and so forth who went to the UAE and are doing extremely well there but unfortunately we also got a large number of Nigerians going to UAE and breaking all the laws of the UAE,” the minister said.
“It’s just to tell you that there are other issues very often behind a lot of what happens and what takes place. We have a responsibility as the government but also individual Nigerians should always behave themselves to respect the laws of other countries. If that’s the case, I think the perception of our country will even be better.”
Responding to calls for the country to be more proactive in protecting its citizens abroad, the minister said “We have in place a very robust mechanism of reaching out and defending Nigerians in all the countries in which they are. We have a foreign policy