Most of them left their homes in Nigeria in the hope of getting lucrative jobs in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, losing hope for their own country and its system.
However, for many of them, this decision turned out to be a terrible mistake, as many employers in the oil-rich country are said to have banned Nigerians from applying for jobs, even if such jobs are exclusively for Africans.
With El Dorado they chased from Nigeria to Dubai, the capital of the UAE is nowhere to be seen, many of them are desperate to return home, but they are not only stuck, but also disappointed.
Their plight became public after a social media post that Nigerians in the UAE were prevented from applying for affordable jobs in the Asian country went viral.
Given that the report came on the heels of the arrest of Hushpuppi, an alleged infamous cybercrime kingpin, many were quick to attribute the predicament of other Nigerians in the UAE to his atrocities.
But the Nigerians who spoke to our correspondent from the UAE were unanimous in saying that their plight had nothing to do with Hushpuppi. The ban on Nigerians, they said, was in effect long before the fraudster appeared.
What, then, are the sins for which UAE employers prefer citizens of small African countries to the so-called giant of Africa?
Femi Johnson, a Nigerian resident in Dubai, said: “I have seen information prohibiting Nigerians from applying for advertised jobs.
When I asked why, I was told that this is not an official decision of the UAE government, but the decision of the labor employers.
“Banning Nigerians from applying for advertised jobs also has nothing to do with Hushppuppi. After all, he wasn’t the only one arrested during that period.
People of other nationalities were also arrested, but it was that Hushppupi that grabbed the media space.
- Many Nigerians like the easy way out. For example, the sale of alcohol is regulated here, but some Nigerians will want to be smart about it.
“Last Friday, several Nigerians threw a party and got into trouble with the authorities in the Sharjah area. An Indian neighbor told them the music was too loud, but they didn’t budge.
“There was a quarrel, and they threw the guy from a 14-storey building. The police moved there and arrested many Nigerians and other Africans.”
This development, according to Johnson, negatively affects the image of innocent Nigerians.
He added: “at my workplace, my colleagues got angry about this incident and bombarded me with questions. I have repeatedly had to explain what needs to be done to protect my country and our people.
“I work here in Dubai, and I was lucky enough to become the first African to work in this organization. When my boss saw my level of diligence and hard work, he asked me to bring my brother along so that he could also come and work for the company. He works for the company here with me.”
Emem Akpan, a resident of Nigeria in the Sharjah region of the UAE, said some employers prohibit Nigerians from applying for certain jobs because of their past experience.
“This has nothing to do with hushpuppi’s arrest. Some Nigerians always want to take advantage of the situation. After some employers would invest so much in some of them, employees will just run away at some point.
“Some employers here prefer to hire Ethiopians rather than Nigerians. Some time ago, I went for an interview and a Nigerian told me that as soon as they help her with her visa, she will work for two months and run away if she gets another job.
“I told her that if she was not going to stay, there was no need to force them to process her visa, which costs almost a million Naira.
Some companies believe that such Nigerians have gone into hiding, and once they do, it will be difficult for such Nigerians to find work.”
Another reason why UAE labor employers reject Nigerians, according to Emem, is the language barrier.
She said: “When I came here, I couldn’t apply for a job in reception because I didn’t speak Arabic and I couldn’t communicate with people who came to do business.
- Some clients do not speak English well, so they always need someone who understands and speaks Arabic. But Nigerians still work in customer service departments. I currently work for a travel Agency.
- The question of the Hushpuppi still comes up during the news release. But it’s not just Nigerians who commit crimes here. We have read about how the Dubai police arrest some drug lords, but they don’t advertise them because they are not Nigerians.”
Dada Ezekiel, who lives in Dubai, said he felt sick when he saw a post banning Nigerians from applying for jobs.
“It doesn’t really make one feel good,” he said.
“When I saw the jobs that Nigerians were not allowed to apply for, I first thought it was related to Hushpuppi.
“Later in the day, I saw a message that this was not the position of the UAE government, but the position of the employer who placed the ad.
“There are two Nigerians in the company I work with. Until now, they didn’t need blacks. When they tried the first person and saw what they could do and were doing, they asked him to bring another person from Nigeria, and that’s how I got the job.
“When I was in Nigeria, I didn’t know the depth of this kind of problem on the human psyche until I got to this place. It was here that I learned what it is like to go to an interview and feel isolated, and people treat you as if you are not human, just because of information they may have received about the involvement of Nigerians in fraud.”
Many Nigerians, he said, don’t care about how their actions affect other people.
“What Nigerians are usually famous for here is Internet fraud. When I came here, I saw that we can offer a lot of services, but some of our people spoil our image.
“Recently, a Nigerian colleague tried to deceive an Indian by pretending to issue a canadian visa for him.
“The Indian was about to pay when he noticed that he was being cheated. If he (the Nigerian) was caught, how would the owners take a person like me?
“Many of them believe that every Negro is a Nigerian. They see Nigeria as a continent, not just a country. Whenever a black man commits a crime, they say he is a Nigerian.
“When I came here, there was a guy who came with a three-month visa. When the visa expired, he went into hiding instead of trying to renew it.
“These are the people who commit most crimes. They always run away from the police and do nothing but drink.
There are a lot of Nigerians in Sharjah. It’s like a community for Nigerians, and what most of them do is drink with women, doing all kinds of things.”
In confirmation of Ezekiel’s words, a resident of Dubai, who gave his name simply as shogun, said: “Why they prefer other African citizens to Nigerians is the attitude of our boys.
Most of them want to make money fast. do here. They do leave these guys for a while because they know that at the end of the day they will confiscate everything they have. They can’t get these things out of Dubai.”
He added: “some of them don’t have any qualifications and want to come here to make money quickly. Here they pay according to your qualifications and level.
“People from other African countries come with good qualifications and experience. Sometimes jobs were only open to Africans, but as soon as they saw Nigerians, they kept them aside and interviewed citizens of other African countries, telling Nigerians to leave.
“There are so many difficulties for our brothers here. Most of them are doing very poorly.
“Some of them who got jobs at some companies would suddenly say they don’t want to work again because they think they don’t have enough pay.
“Most of them live extravagantly. They can’t be safe when they lead an extravagant lifestyle, because Dubai is an expensive place to live.
“No matter how much you get paid, if you want to live here the way you want to, you can’t save a cent.
“Even some Europeans get into debt because of an extravagant lifestyle, although they receive fat salaries. Some of them get up to 17 million a month, but still get into debt.”