Nigerians explode the drug atom

By Prabhakar Timble
12 November 2013 14:53 IST

The ugly muscle flexing break dance of the Nigerians on the National Highway was crude and uncivil. The black colour of their skin added to the roughness and made it look ruder. If it was a ballet or tango of white men, probably the locals and the local media would have shown a different kind of critical appreciation as opposed to instant disapproval and condemnation. As the events unfolded later, it was undoubtedly a cry for help and justice.  The Nigerians adopted an improper, impolite and insulting route to coerce the police to act against those who were responsible for the murder of a fellow Nigerian, and injuring five others, with multiple wounds.  They perceived the threat that no investigations would be done and on the contrary, the murdered Nigerian would be declared as a drug hawker.  

If the incident had not happened, this wild blacklisting of Nigerians would never happen.  The rampant and open drug trade has remained unquestioned and accepted as a part of Goa’s tourism lifestyle. Even after the incident, the drug trade stays unquestioned. The issue that is brought in the media and by government is of Nigerians occupying legally or illegally their foot on the Goan soil. Such a targeting has proved advantageous for the drug peddlers and traders. The cleanup of Nigerians would be a blessing for the other drug players as this black community was undercutting other suppliers.

Media, locals and politicians made it a local versus Nigerian issue spitting venom and extending the discharge against migrants.  The Chief Minister of Goa ridiculed the Central Government and the Ministry of External Affairs.  The police brains made it look like a law and order issue showcasing the arrogance of Nigerians, though it was actually a subject of police failure at the start and later a total collapse of the law enforcement authority.  Those politicians and their henchmen with hands soiled in drug trade were happy for getting a safety net and cover up of their activities as Nigerians are brought centre stage.

No community is criminal

A Goan stays drowned in wine and dance and finds it difficult to wade his way through the market to his dwelling house is how Goans are pictured in Hindi cinema. And we started creating an image of Nigerians as offensive tribe with contempt for law and locals. We know that both are untrue.

Nigeria is a nation rich in natural resources. The country is the largest producer and exporter of petroleum products. It became an independent nation only in 1960 and had some semblance of democracy since 1999. The one-two percent wealthy dominate, with two-third of its population in abject poverty. It is said that “To live a day in Nigeria is to die many times”. This is because of poverty and insurgency at home. An educated middle class is gradually evolving in Nigeria. Nigerians in drug trade is an undeniable fact but it is incorrect to paint them as a community of arrogant, offensive, criminal and violent people.

The electronic media kept our eyeballs wet showing the Nigerians taking the law in their hands and making a mockery of Goa police. The media did not move an inch beyond this. Though not justified, this contempt should have a backstage script written by the violent scuffle resulting in the murder of the Nigerian and the fear that the politician- trader-police nexus would declare the victims as the culprits of crime. The stories that are told now might have stayed buried if the issue had not come to the national stage and diplomatic interventions had not taken place.

Drug trade to stay

By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. We have nobody to blame but ourselves, said B. R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly. After liberation and later statehood, we have lost the privilege of blaming Portuguese or migrants or Nigerians. The ruling politicians still keep alive the memory of the Congress party through their armchair luxury of blaming the Congress for the present failures.  Beating the Congress party is acceptable in an election campaign, now it looks irrelevant and unprofessional unless the present government desires to communicate that it is still the Congress party ruling through the BJP.

Drug trade is rampant.  A group of Nigerians constitute a bogie of this drug train. There are bogies of Russians, groups from North-East India, locals, police and politicians also attached to this train. All have made a fast buck and these locals have also financed the Panchayat and State Assembly elections.

Deporting any foreigner as per existing laws and treaties cannot be a controversial issue.  However, drug trade will not permit a vacuum and this space would be already occupied by others. “Outsiders” is a good bogey and opium in the hands of the local politicians and police.  No transactions can happen without the outsider-insider hand-shake.

The drug trade has become an integral part of our tourism growth. Tourism development accompanied by legal casinos, legal public gambling and complemented by prostitution and drug heaven is a road which Goa has chosen. That tourists visit Goa for gambling, stolen sex and the narcotic pot is the premise of our tourism growth and developmental planning. The premise could be wrong but Goa continues to work on this postulate.

There cannot be drug- free casinos and gambling- free drug trade.  It is a dream as ephemeral as corruption-free government. Both these organised business areas reinforce each other as such monies need to get siphoned to such illegal fields extending to financing of terrorist and disruptive activities. Goa may deport the Nigerians, but to extradite the drug trade it means a total overhaul of tourism which either supports or is supported by such organized criminal syndicates in drugs, public gambling and prostitution. The politician-police-crime nexus cannot be broken through administrative measures. The nexus rewards all the constituents. Goa needs re-positioning as a safe and clean destination rather than a heaven for drugs, gambling and sex.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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