20 June 2016
Barely 72 hours to the “Brexit referendum”, a cross-section of Nigerians and Africans in the UK are uncertain on their vote choice.
Brexit , a term used to describe Britain’s proposed exit from the EU, has led to a planned referendum slated for Thursday, June 23, where UK nationals, Commonwealth citizens and residents of 18 years and above would vote on Britain’s ”Leave or Remain ” in the European Union.
Speaking on the development, Mr Bimbo Afolayan, former chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK, said on Monday that the Nigerian community was evenly divided on the Brexit.
Afolayan said in a telephone interview that those against the Brexit were of the view that several European laws protect vulnerable people, ethnic minorities and migrant communities.
“Information reaching us so far is that the Nigerian community is evenly divided between “Stay and Exit’’ in the Brexit campaigns.
“The reasons are as follows, those who want “Stay” argue that there are several European laws that protect vulnerable people, ethnic minorities and migrant communities in the UK.
“Once Britain exits, these protection will also disappear, besides, the stay campaigners in the Nigerian community feel that once Europeans are chased away, the next focus will be the African communities,” Afolayan said.
He said, however, that those in favour of “Exit” believed that with Britain out of the EU, there would be more jobs, housing and access to other social amenities which had favoured EU nationals to the disadvantage of other immigrant communities.
“This is a very serious issue of concern to us as Nigerians accounts for two million of the 4.5 million Africans in the UK,’’ he added.
In the same vein, Mr Joe Kofi, a Ghanaian diaspora stakeholder, said that Brexit was an issue of great concern to the immigrant communities.
“A lot of people are certain that the proposed exit would affect the UK economy; this is certain as it would take many years for Britain to stabilise economically.
“What we are not certain about, is how it will affect us as Africans, Asians, Caribbeans and other immigrant communities.
“A lot of people are still undecided on where they stand, but I have taken a decision to support the `Stay’ campaigners,” Kofi stressed.
The Brexit referendum was in response to growing calls by UK’s Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) and their counterpart at the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum.
In the same development, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, after his 2015 re-election had promised to address the Brexit issue, saying: “it is time for the British people to have their say.
“It is time to settle this European question in British politics.’’
“Issues at the bone of contention in the Brexit are child benefits, Migrant welfare payments and retaining the Pound Sterling currency.
Others are protection for the City of London and ability to run Britain without much interference from the EU.