Taking a second look at the Nigerian Embassies and Consulates .

This write up is well overdue but one I’ll rather not share. Why? It’s nothing to write home about, but the incident that happened at the Nigerian House in London on the 17th of June, 2019 has spurred me on to talk about this and perhaps maybe a time for Nigerians in diaspora to put Nigeria into a reset mode from overseas via our embassies since we have little chance of doing that back home. Like they say, “you need to be on ground to effect any change”.

For those that may not be aware of the incident … basically, a guy (Nigerian) went to the Nigerian House in London to collect his passport. The information I got was that he was not given his passport because he did not come with his collection slip. Out of frustration, the dude went crazy, left the high commission and decided to take the laws into his hands. He smashed all the Nigerian diplomatic cars parked within the vicinity. The main action was not captured, but the aftermath was recorded and shared on social media.

I am not in support of what happened. It seems like the guy has some severe Anger Management issues. But the UK is a country where we have law and order. I believe the British metropolitan police who were seen in the aftermath video, will carry out a full investigation and the guy will be prosecuted accordingly. Except the High commission decides not to press for charges.

Looking at some of the comments on social media yesterday, it’s amazing how no one picked up the fact that all the diplomatic cars were parked on “Double yellow lines”… A blatant disrespect to UK’s traffic law. This is a regular practice, and Nigerian diplomats are on the top list of foreign diplomats who contravene traffic laws in the UK, as well as not pay congestion charges on a regular basis, owing to the UK government millions of pounds as a result of this. Most of the charges are late payment penalties, and it’s Nigerian taxpayers who will end up paying for these. I know some people will say but other countries are also guilty, but why can’t we be role models? Why can’t we be law-abiding? Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at any time even if there are no upright signs. You are not allowed to park on Double yellow lines, full stop! So why will our government officials flaunt the rules and regulations of their host nation that they are meant to be building a relationship and diplomatic ties with? It was not just one or two cars parked; to be honest, I didn’t bother counting but looked like at least six vehicles.

In as much as I have total disapproval of the guy’s action, which I believe the police are dealing with already, I also heard he was more pissed because the embassy staffs were communicating to one another in Hausa as he begged them in frustration as they will not give him his passport without a collection slip. I mean, this dude is collecting his passport in person, why are we not Digital? Why is the slip not an e-slip?

The biggest corporate blunder was the embassy staff leaking or passing to the public the guy’s full passport photo page with his full name, date of birth, passport number, etc. Who does that? Who are the people entrusted with our international relations?

All over the world, the story is more or less the same. The Nigerian High Commission or embassy is a nightmare. A place to avoid by all means. We have all heard of horror stories, lost passports, lost original documents, delays in collecting a passport or Visa. Plus the high cost of processing such poor services. The quality of staffing is appalling. It seems only one section of the country; the Northerners are the majority of staffs. Nepotism in full display. What beats me is the allowance these people get, the expensive central accommodation these staffs are housed in, and all of these largesse are inversely proportional to the standard of service provided. I just don’t get it. Nigeria has Nigerians living in every country on the planet. Well educated Nigerians who are also able to speak the local language fluently, who have learnt the high work ethic from years of working in the country, they don’t need to be provided with accommodation, Their families don’t need to be relocated with their domestic aids. Yes, they may not be home recruited civil servants, But they can at least provide the front desk task or customer facing duties. Thereby giving the nation and customers an international customer service experience. How hard can that be?

Just yesterday, a friend shared his experiences on how he paid online to renew his passport and within 24 hours of making that payment, over 60 transactions fraudulently went through his bank account with a total spend of over £8,000. What a shame! Luckily for him, the bank refunded his money and carried out the standard investigation.

We all know of the horrors of trying to renew your passport, and after months of waiting, you are told that they’ve run out of passport. How does a country run out of passport?

With the recent London stabbings, it’s not unusual to see Nigerian names on the list of victims. What is the Nigerian commissioner doing about this? If there were to be flooding and a natural disaster here in the UK, What’s the contingency plan to evacuate Nigerians? Does the embassy know the estimated numbers of Nigerians in the UK? Can they actualize to their trading partners, Nigeria’s Financial contribution to the UK Educational system via our international students? Can they give statistics of Nigerian professionals helping the UK economy? How many medical staffs do we have in the NHS and the Private Health Care sectors? What’s the estimated number of IT Professionals? Talkless of calculate the tax contribution of these hardworking Nigerians. Do they expect the home office to keep those data for them? Well, the Home office has the estimated data on the number of Nigerian illegal immigrants as well as the number of Nigerians in UK Prisons. Great! If we don’t tell our story, guess what? Others will tell their version of our story as it either suits them and they choose to portray us. It’s so easy to even request via company house the number of Nigerian business owners in the UK. If we are not willing to get data and show these countries the positive impacts we as Nigerians are making, What are the basis for your trade terms, negotiations, and fostering relationship? How are you able to show we are adding value?

We always get excited when America tells us about the number of Nigerians in PostGrad Schools or doing their PhD. As a nation, Our foreign office has no programme for its people abroad. The National Diaspora Commission set up by the Federal Government is another avenue to create a cost centre for a few to siphon public funds. Can anyone please explain the purpose and benefit of this and to whom that benefit is directed?

I think the different Nigerian bodies and associations in Diaspora need to come together and call for meetings with our various embassies to address these issues.

– Jay Fams

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