Nigerian Embassies and Passport rackets affect citizens in Diaspora

August 5, 2011

by Tola Adenle

Difficulty in renewing or obtaining new Nigerian passport by our citizens abroad started several years ago.  In fact, I first learnt of it in the mid-90s.    It is possible it had started earlier but it first came to my notice around 1993 when a young woman in England had problems renewing her passport.

Earlier in ’89 not too long after my family had checked out into self exile with the mythical Nigerian “Andrew”, a relation had had his hand luggage stolen at Kennedy Airport.  It was a very cold winter day and in the shock that the blast had delivered to somebody coming from the heat of a Nigerian February, he had run back inside to pick another of his luggage, leaving the carry-on for just a very short time.  Before he returned outside – probably less than fifty feet and the glass door that separated him and his cherished carry-on – it was gone;  so were his Nigerian passport and many other valuables.

I do remember well that my I was still at our first abode with our kids during the Andrian years at our old haunt, Washington, D.C., and the relation and I were able to take care of the passport problem at the Embassy.  He easily got a replacement or a travel document that enabled him process another on his return to Nigeria.  The Consular staff we dealt with were also very civil and very helpful.

Fast forward about a decade and Nigeria’s descent into utter chaotic and intractable corruption was well on its way.  The child of a friend who needed to travel to Nigeria from D.C. could not get a passport for her new-born because “the covers for new passports were not available.”  She eventually had to apply for the baby’s U.S. passport, an application that she mailed and secured a brand new passport all within a week-and-a-half after mailing off the application.

Since that time, I’ve come across many Nigerian citizens who continue to tell horror stories from the Nigerian embassies in D.C. and London as well as Consular offices.  I am not aware of the situations in Nigeria’s other consular posts and embassies.  Just as in the home country, “civil” servants on diplomatic postings as well as their underpaid non-home based staff, i.e. locally-recruited, have perfected ways of demanding and receiving what are – no matter how couched – bribes.  Anyone who has ever had cause to do business with Nigerian Police must have heard the euphemisms – we need X Naira to buy paper to write the “charge sheet”, etcetera.

Many Nigerian youth who have dual citizenships have learnt to pay to obtain visas to visit their fatherland.  The question is:  why must this be?

In the sixty-plus days that Dr. Jonathan has been sworn in as president, the problem has gotten worse.  With the “fresh air” that he promised in his electioneering billboards, I think a thorough cleansing of Nigerian embassies and consular offices around the world is a first step.  This is because many foreign nationals also have problems – not of qualifications for visas – in getting Nigerian visas.  The embassies are Nigeria’s first face to the outside world, and that face is very ugly.

This is one problem that Jonathan does not need position papers, a panel or any time-wasting government bureaucracy on; neither does it need tons of money to stop this sleaze with enough stench to add to the polluted air of Nigeria.

For a start, one of those zillions of aides at Aso Rock could be made to take charge of complaints to be filed electronically.  The president can set a limit per post of complaints concerning absence of passport covers, say, a dozen, after which the Consular Officer is queried.  The next group should bring him/her back to Abuja – for good.

Many of Nigeria’s problems are not unsolvable but they need a president determined to live up to his campaign promises.  While at it, may I suggest that the president also extends the house-cleaning job to passport offices in each state capital of Nigeria?  The stench in these places is enough to wake up the dead.

I understand Ms. Abike Dabiri who has been in the House since 1999 heads – or headed – Diaspora affairs. I do not know if, during one of the many numerous trips she takes abroad on diaspora matters, she has been aware of this serious problems.  A Nigerian student abroad who needs to visit home should not have to pay a hundred GB Pounds to get a visa on her U.S., British or other passport to which dual citizenship entitles him/her because he/she cannot renew his/her Nigerian passport even if submitted two months ahead of a planned trip.



Nigerian newspapers and online news sources
  • 234 Next News site
  • Bella Naija Magazine
  • Business Day Newspaper
  • Daily Champion Newspaper
  • Daily Independent Newspaper
  • Daily Trust Newspaper
  • Elendu Reports News site
  • Emotan Blog
  • Huhu online News site
  • jhova blog Blog
  • Leadership News site
  • Linda Ikeji Blog
  • National Daily Newspaper
  • Nigeria Plus News site
  • Nigeria Village Square News site
  • Nigerian Observer News site
  • Osun Defender News site
  • PM News Newspaper
  • Punch Newspaper
  • Sahara Reporters News site
  • Sun Newspaper
  • The Guardian Newspaper
  • This Day Newspaper
  • Tribune Newspaper
  • Vanguard Newspaper

    Emotan 77
    Former publisher of the women's bi-monthly, Emotan (1977-1984) and op-ed ... now publishes her writing here

    Bridging Loans. Get a decision today
    We have access to unlimited funding, assuring competitive levels of capital per deal.

    Abuja food delivery, call +234 803 369 4078, +234 809 833 944
    Afang, edikan ikon, egusi, oha, okro, white soup, jollof rice, yam porriage, moin-moin, white rice & stew ...

    Home interiors inspired by Heritage African fabrics
    Handmade cushions, bedding, apparel and more

    Hand crafted cards by Christiangraffiti
    Inspirational notecards and greetings that touch the spirit and pierce the soul