• FG tasks citizens to learn foreign languages

From Okwe Obi, Abuja

The Federal Government has attributed unfair treatment meted out to most Nigerians living abroad to illegal migration.

The Director, Economic Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria, Amb Akinremi Bolaji, said this Monday at the launch of EuroAfrica Polish Language Center, Abuja, adding that some migrants lacked the basic skills to fit into the host countries.

He maintained that most reports bordering on the ill-treatment of Nigerians are not properly documented because most of the victims travelled illegally.

Bolaji said: “Government does not encourage irregular migration. But we do understand that it is part of the fundamental human right to move.

“That is why government plays emphasis on ensuring that whoever desires to move, does that within the remit of the law.

“Countries want what you have, but they just want you to come legally or documented. And that is why you need registered services like EuroAfrica, which are known by the government and regulatory organisations to assist you.

“Such can organise the right pathway for you to travel. But you see when you say Japa (escape) if you go to another man’s country without entering the place properly, you will be ill-treated and the law will find it very difficult to support you.

“This is why we are raising it loud and clear that nobody is trying to impeach anyone’s freedom of travel but, you must have something, like basic knowledge.

“Now, all the records of ill-treatment that we receive are because most of our people did not properly migrate.

“If you are documented at the Ministry of Labour and Employment when you are travelling and you are documented by National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) and we know the employer who is the agent that is taking you away, then if your host mistreats you, we will be able to trace such host but when you travel illegally then it becomes a challenge,” Bolaji stated.

He encouraged Nigerians to learn foreign languages in order to up their games, noting that the EuroAfrica Polish Language Centre would help grow the economies between Nigerians and their host countries.

“People-to-people connection is the height of connection that countries long for and Europe today needs Africa, but the language has always been a barrier.

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“With this Center here, I am also believing that somewhere in Poland, they will start learning how to speak Yoruba or Hausa because we are one people and we need each other.

“They come to Lagos to do business. It will be easier for them if they learn how to speak Yoruba, so this is just a stepping stone.

“If you go to Poland, it is a white environment, white culture, and their language is what they speak. So once you come in without being able to say anything, they will know that you’re a stranger. And if your paper is not correct, then you run the risk. And so this is very good that it is trying to bring up the service.

“So rather than encouraging ‘Japa’, this initiative is going to encourage proper regular migration, labour migration and encourage record keeping and the government would be able to know the number of citizens that have gone out, where they are, in which industry are they serving, and who is their employer.

Founder of the Centre, Olakunle Alayande, said the initiative was to transmit the language and culture of Poland to the youth in Nigeria.

“I have been living in Poland for the past two decades, and I’ve been into education for a while. My record shows that I have taken more than 400 students to Poland as individual students and exchange students and they have all graduated.

“Haven’t done that, I discovered that a lot of Nigerians are not integrated into the Polish system in terms of having the knowledge of the language and not being able to find their pace on the territory of Poland, in terms of getting an adequate job that they could get in terms of having the knowledge of Polish.

“The only opportunity they have is to just get employment through multinational companies. But by the time you start learning the language or you can speak the language, even if it’s the basic knowledge of Polish, it gives you wide opportunities to work with either the Polish company or multinational companies.

“So after myself, my wife with my team saw the advantages that it would be to the privilege of Nigerian students we decided to bring this opportunity down to Nigeria.

The Co-founder of the Centre, Aleksandra Alaynade, said the benefits of learning Polish or more than one language could make one’s résumé stand out where there were competitions and stressed that ability to speak Polish was absolutely necessary if one intends to run a business in Poland.

“In addition to the position, relevant experienced companies often look for candidates who can offer more cultural diversity.

“Poland’s economy is one of the strongest in the region, so the language is in high demand,” she said.