The story of Ogochukwu Efeizomor, a 30-year-old Nigerian engineer in search of asylum in Italy, is a pathetic one. Despite his professional training, Efeizomor at the moment survives by begging on the streets of Italy.
NAIJ.com presents Efeizomor’s story which is originally published by Washington Times.
How it all started
Efeizomor, a trained civil engineer, lost his job with an oil company in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, after a series of health problems.
Efeizomor said the health problems started after a neighbour in his village in southern Nigeria poisoned him. In short order, he suffered acute appendicitis, problems with the mammary glands, kidney issues and dental problems.
He still has two wounds on his hands from where he says a cultist who wanted to induct him into a secret society burned his hands, “which left me an everlasting mark.”
He decided to leave Nigeria in 2016, reaching Libya and then boarding a smugglers’ boat toward Italy.
In Italy, he has had three surgeries, two on the stomach and one on the mammary glands.
Survival in Italy
Three or four days a week, Ogochukwu Efeizomor takes a train from Lecco, a lakeside town where he stays in a centre for migrants, to Italy’s financial capital, Milan.
He has long settled on a specific corner, near a coffee bar and a garage, about a 20-minute walk from the station.
He stands with a yellow wool cap to ask passers-by for change – always with a smile, always a “buon giorno,” never insisting too much.
The change, food and sometimes clothes that people bring him supplement the meals and the 2.50 euros a day he receives from the centre. Sometimes he even gets a 10- or 20-euro bill.
Life in Italy as an African migrant
Efeizomor has experienced both the good and the bad in his life as a migrant in Italy.
He said: “Here I meet a lot of different types of people, staying on the street. There are many so good, nice and friendly, so accommodating. There are people that hate you, they don’t like you, they are not friend. So when you come in contact with those people, they can make you feel bad. But the majority of the people are nice.”
Since Italy’s new populist government took office this spring, Washington Times reports that racist incidents against migrants and other outsiders appear to be on the rise.
One day recently, a cyclist veered toward Efeizomor, spraying him with mucus from his nose as he passed. Sometimes passers-by call him “Marrocchino,” a vaguely insulting moniker used generally for North Africans. Efeizomor prefers to focus on the kind people.
“Italy has always been my dream,” he said. “To live with other nationalities.”
Now, Efeizomor is waiting for his asylum application to be processed, seeking international protection based on human rights violations suffered in Nigeria.
He studies Italian some days, and others he panhandles, standing on his chosen corner from 8.30am to 2pm, before returning to Lecco on the train.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had previously reported that no fewer than 1500 Nigerians are serving jail terms for various offences in Italy.
Italy’s ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli, made the disclosure during a chat with journalists in Abuja.
Pontesilli also stated that thousands of Nigerians unable to cross from Libya to Italy have been stuck in Libya.
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