The French Embassy in Nigeria must be useless!

Adeola Aderounmu.

It is annoying that one stupid and ignorant person at the Embassy with probably a Secondary School Certificate was the one that attended to me and turned me down- Wale A.

I am very angry right now.

What are the roles of the foreign embassies in Nigeria? Why do the semi-literates in these embassies deny Nigerian professionals and others the basic right to acquire entry visas that will allow them visit many countries in Europe and other places?

A recent case at the French embassy in Nigeria is still causing a source of agitation in my mind and here I will narrate the story. Wale has worked as a professional banker for more than 15 years. In these 15 years or more, he has travelled to all the continents on planet earth. First he worked in Lagos on Marina Street with Nigerian’s foremost merchant bank.

About 5 years ago like many of his contemporaries Wale relocated to Abuja and took up another job but still in the banking industry. This year alone, Wale has travelled to the United States on a number of occasions. He has also been to the United Kingdom, Dubai and Malaysia. Wale has travelled the entire length and breadth of Nigeria and Africa. As I write this article, he is on his way to Asaba, then to Onitsha and then Aba.

This has been the nature of Wale’s job for over a decade-travelling and meeting with clients and seeking the prosperity of Nigeria. When he leaves Aba at the end of this week, he would be on his way to Switzerland but this time for the purpose of education to advance his professional life and this is where the crux of my anger with the French Embassy in Nigeria sets in.

Wale will attend a professional course in Switzerland for 3 weeks starting June 16. At the end of the course, the school is offering a school trip to Paris by bus. Wale would definitely like to be part of the trip after which he would also like to take a flight to Sweden where his younger brother lives.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU and she is also not a Schengen state. Hence, Wale turned to the French Embassy for a schengen visa since all schengen countries offer that. Unfortunately, Wale was denied a schengen visa by the French. It was only at the interview that they told him to present a hotel booking in Paris.

Wale explained to them at the embassy that he was not going to stay in Paris, that his destination is Sweden. But anyway if they wanted a booking for a hotel in Paris, this would have been easily done by Wale or his brother in Sweden. Wale spent a great deal of time explaining the entire situation to the nonentities at the French embassy, but they were hell-bent on denying him the visa. If he was to present the hotel booking in Paris, he cannot do that until another 15 days at which time the course would have started in Geneva. The embassies have a silly rule that keeps a failed applicant away for minimum 15 days.

How can a man who is going to Geneva be denied a schengen visa to Paris? It is totally despicable and nonsensical. It is absolute rubbish! Wale has been to Sweden before in 2005. Then he was on a business trip to Brussels and he had a Schengen visa so it was easy to take a flight to Sweden. He stayed for only 5 days and went back to Nigeria.

I don’t know how many Nigerian passports wale has used in the last 15 years but it must be quite a number. Why didn’t the half-educated people at the French embassy have a thorough look at the visas and stamps on these passports? I am very mad right now as I imagine the trauma that they put Wale through.

He was really upset at this development and he regretted that he didn’t turn to the Swedish Embassy in the first place. I mean what difference does it make? A man is going to Paris and would like to touch Sweden before he returns to work in Abuja. He presented his ticket to those fools but that didn’t matter. How could he have known that the people working at the French embassy in Nigeria have no initiatives of their own? That they are completely stereotyped dummies.

Wale is just one of the several legitimate cases of Nigerians who have been denied the right to travel out of Nigeria to pursue one thing or the other. A number of students have been traumatized because they cannot obtain visa to further their education abroad. Many legitimate Nigerian tourists are locked down there without right to get back their application fees or to even re-apply. In a way, the foreign embassies in Nigeria have continued to rip millions of naira from Nigeria every year.

If the embassy is in doubt of an application, what does it take them to crosscheck with the destination of the applicant? In Wale’s case, what is the doubt about? He has a visa to Switzerland and I am pretty sure he still has valid entry visas to the US and UK? What is their problem? They should give me one reason why Wale will stay in Paris if he was given a Schengen visa.

I am actually using this medium to call the French Embassy to order. If this is what they do to legitimate travelers, then they should pack out of Nigeria forthwith. If there are more embassies like the French Embassy, then the Federal Government should wake up and have a chat with them. They cannot continue to threat Nigerians with contempt in Nigeria? We don’t do similar things to them when they apply to visit our country. That is unacceptable and this is the message Wale wanted me to get across to the Nigerian Government.