Speaking about the” Nigerian service” topic among fellow Nigerians and my parents was always a joke around the table and the detailed fables of bribery and corruption were also sectional issues about 19 years ago. After today, I can hardly raise my head and walk in the honor I once upheld as a Nigerian after my experience at the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg today.
I am sure, the concept of orderliness is something that a nation that is full of ” all too know” citizens can understand but to have people who are placed in important positions misconstrue their obligations is not something acceptable, especially those placed on delegations abroad. I have read of issues of unprofessional-ism and neglect of civil rights of citizens all over the world by Nigerian delegated officials and I never taught I would one day, experience it.
I searched for the sentence ” my experience at the Nigerian consulate” on google and was shocked the search engine came up with 456,900 results in 0.61 sec.
My passport expired and in order to meet certain South Africa residence laws, I needed to get a new passport. My employment and existence in the country depended on it. On starting the application process, I realized that OIS was awarded a contract to help with the facilitation of the VISA and all inter-allied services to help reduce fraud and speed up the process.
I had a struggle to get the process started and a lot of delays which was caused by the absurd system and break time abducted by OIS staff in Johannesburg. During this period, I contacted the Nigerian Consulate in Pretoria, and to my surprise, they assisted to give me the information I couldn’t get whilst at the front gate of OIS in Johannesburg. I later sent an email and the management of OIS responded and assisted with the first leg of the application process.
OIS assisted me with a date that would help me manage to catch up with my immigration applications as well as my employment contract renewal. The appointment was sadly canceled by an official at the Consulate who wanted a special recognition and a favor slipped down a note that I did not agree to.
I was made to wait from 11:40 am till 4:30 pm to be told to leave and return to OIS to assist me to check my details. I did not argue and on arrival at OIS, the staffs were helpful despite leaving for Pretoria at 5:30 that day.
I eventually agreed to a date that was scheduled for the 17th of December, which could affect my employment contract renewal and also lead to a delay in the processing of my residence documentations. On arrival at the consulate on the 17th of December, I was shocked at the arrangement of the waiting hall. It was worse than what I experienced at primary school, as a minor.
There was no indication for seating, call in, or any general information. I was later called in at No 36 and after my details were captured, I was told to come and collect my documents on the 13th of January 2016, so I mailed my employer and the Immigration lawyer that was assisting with my documentation.
It was quite a dull morning on the 13th of January 2016, as I was sick and still on medication but managed to be at the consulate by 8:15 am but was told that the Consulate would only open for business at 9 am. So, like every other Nigerian, we sat in the scorching sun for the next 45 mins and later at 9:00 am gained access to the premises.
I do not agree that 5 cents of communication is not affordable by an institutions that pays more than half a billion to procure the so called immigration policy services for citizens abroad.
We were told nothing as usual and had to seat on unmarked chairs, we waited for a miracle to walk through the management doors. So after 2 hours, we had a gentleman in a grey suit come out to the waiting area to address the crowd and told everyone how sorry he was and that there were no passports to issue to anyone of us.
The question was simple, so how do we know when to come back to collect the passport or what measures are in place for citizens that need the document for important issues? One of the operatives at the embassy brought out a green paper with the consulate’s landline and pasted it at the back of the hall, requesting that we call the number as many times as possible to check when the embassy has passports and then come in.
I receive 5 cents worth of notification from my banks, health institution, club groups, even at church whenever there is a change or shift in agenda. So the Nigerian government delegates in South Africa neglected the core aspect of communication in Service delivery and ignorantly allowed thousands of Nigerians to be exposed to more humiliations.
I do not agree that 5 cents of communication are not affordable by an institution that pays more than half a billion to procure the so-called immigration policy services for citizens abroad.
So what is Nigeria’s problem and why is it that one of the so-called wealthy African countries has failed to care for its citizens?
My theory is based on embezzlement, and a faulty system that sees the mere masses as lower-class people in a society that embraces the rich and ridicules the poor and the underprivileged.
The likes of these delegates would rather pass the Nigerian list of needy citizens to impress the South African government with self-proclaimed accolades of projects that never get implemented or promises that show us as a strong nation. Whilst we are broken, and wounded by the very government that was voted to empower to build its people.
Related is the issue during the Xenophobic attacks in 2015, I and a group of South Africans met with Nigerians who were brutally abused under the South African operation fiela project :
It was a sad exercise, the video and a statement was submitted to the human rights commission in South Africa, SAPS command office, The South African Presidency, Nigerian Consulates, Human rights watch, Organization of African Unity, International organization for migration, ADRF, International consortium for Nigerian nationals. The South African arm responded and updated on how the issue would be mitigated and avoid further humiliation of foreign nationals. There were no replies from the consulate nor a piece of information for citizens to date.
So what is the hope for the future?
There are several Nigerian associations that were established to liaise on behalf of the people with the government but unfortunately, they also exhibited traits of greed and selfish motives, and most were abolished or banned. So, there is only one way clearer to me than to get mixed up with the troubling political movements.
One man at a time, building and upholding a good reputation and enlightening fellow Nigerians of the gravity of our collective actions. Our names are still echoing in great halls of achievements and mentioned among the list of the accomplished. Nigeria does have a future but a future that needs our actions and voices to survive from its dwindling place and in the hands of a minority.
So here is the “Nigerian service” tale, it’s a tale foretold by the forefathers of Nigeria, who laughed at the perils of Nigerians who had to deal with a broken system whilst they are protected by influence and power. The fall back however is that they never realized that by not partaking in the process of fixing the problem, it would one day become the very peril of their own future generations.
So today, the Nigerian service tale is no more a joke, it is real and no one is exempted from the Nigerian service shame, not the educated, not the influential, not even the powerful, it is a stigma that we are all experiencing.