I read Sammie Adetiloye's report titled, "Nigerian May Face Prosecution over "Proxy" Passport". I could not actually pinpoint my emotion as I tried to make sense of the story. It's not a fresh report but common sense of a most refreshing sort. It's like a cobra being fascinated by its charmer. Perhaps I should say the report is disturbingly provocative, considering the impact on Nigeria's image.
Although Adetiloye, publisher Theafricansunshine.com, deliberately withholds the name of the Nigerian in question, the story highlights some intriguing finds. Equivocal it may be, I observed two significant things as I leafed through like one would a newspaper. The plight of Nigerians regarding passport issue and of course, the integrity of our officials in Hungary being questioned by the Hungarian Immigration officials.
I have written extensively on both issues, which as a Nigerian vastly disturbed me. I had dealt with the first issue in my Open Letter to Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister while I chew the second issue everyday like kolanut - in my write-ups. Our representatives around the world need to get their act together or face the wrath.
Here is the heart of the report: "The Hungarian Immigration officers, who doubt the ability of the Nigerian Embassy officials in Budapest to serve as a genuine consultative body on suspected fake Nigerian passports, have gone to the British Embassy to seek help".
Gone to the British Embassy to do what? Agbedo. This is simply odium. And it must not be the paradigm by which to solve the problems confronting nationalities of a Sovereign nation in a foreign country. Or am I just making mountain out of the mole hills? Is it right for the Hungarian Immigration to go to the British Embassy in this situation? I need your help please.
Reports like this make you want to puke. You feel that Nigeria is forever tied to Britain's apron. Anger, sadness, shame, insult, uncared for, and scepticism are some negative feelings that tend to overwhelm or probably drown you at work. Unable to concentrate, you submerge your head completely as if under water. Your values have been attacked.
You wonder at the Hungarian Immigration’s audacity, for doubting "the ability of the Nigerian Embassy officials in Budapest to serve as a genuine consultative body on suspected fake Nigerian passports", and instead decided to seek help from the British Embassy; you utter a sudden low cry to the dismay of your colleagues; you try to figure out what on earth is happening; then you pray for wisdom and understanding to become Nigerian representatives in a foreign land.
Nigerian Head of Chancery, Olutola Onijala, was quoted as saying, "How shall we justify the possibility of our passports being obtained by people who did not make themselves available at the Nigerian passport office?" Good talk. I say good talk because I strongly believe Nigerian passport - our image - should be unwaveringly secured.
While I agree with him, I need to point out that it’s highly essential for our embassy to query the rationale behind such break of protocol. Why should the Hungarian Immigration officials bypass the Nigerian Embassy before ascertaining the genuineness of Nigerian passports? Can it be vice-versa? I doubt it.
Mr. Onijala should have known the impact of Hungarian Immigration behaviour. It's unfortunate that Nigerian Head of the Chancery does not get the message or the gist. It suggests that Hungarian Immigration does not trust our embassy while more trust is being put in British Embassy.
The Nigerian who was accused of possessing a fake passport puts it succinctly: "And I was surprised to hear one of the officials say, in the presence of my wife, that the reason they didn't consult the Nigerian Embassy was that the officials there were corrupt". This is clearly one insult too many. If the Hungarian Immigration actually spoke about our embassy with such mistrust, what then would they say about ordinary Nigerian like this writer?
Get me wrong if you like. I am not in any way saying that our embassy should defend illegality. However, it must be the port of call in order to ascertain the genuinenesss of its passport, rather than the British Embassy. That's my bone of contention. Any right thinking Nigerian should be peeved that the Hungarian Immigration ignored the Nigerian Embassy and consulted the British Embassy over an isssue entirely Nigeria's.
What then is the function of the Nigerian Embassy here in Hungary? Is Nigeria still under the British rule? Is there no protocol to follow? Mr. Onijala was further quoted: "For the sake of the image of our country, we should desist from obtaining passports by illegal means". Again, this is a brilliant statement.
Meanwhile, for the sake of the image of our country, the Nigerian Embassy should fume over the fact that the Hungarian immigration would have to confer with the British Embassy over the issue that affects Nigeria and its citizens.
In spite of this, I am aware of the Western media's ignoble propaganda against Africa. In this era of globalisation cum technology, it's quite hard to conceal one's horrid habit. The Hungarian Immigration may have sufficient evidence to support its claim that "the officials there were corrupt", yet the Nigerian Embassy, not the British Embassy is the appropriate place to verify the genuineness of Nigerian passports. On this I stand.
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