By Adeola Aderounmu
Nigerians living in certain parts of the world are already frustrated and unhappy with the performances and activities of some of the Nigerian embassies abroad.
One remarkable problem area with the Nigerian foreign missions is in the issuance of the International passport for Nigerians residing abroad.
I have listened to several Nigerians who have been frustrated by the processes/ procedures of acquiring new Nigerian passport at the expiration of their old passports.
The stories and experiences from the Nordic countries are as diverse as the narrators.
Some people have to wait for 2 months or more before their passports are available for collection.
Sometimes some people waited so long that they eventually gave up! It is a harrowing experience to wait for 6 months.
A few years ago the stories were always about taking the applications from Sweden to London for processing. I don’t know if anyone has verified if such stories were true.
It won’t be out of line to doubt the authenticity of such fables against the backdrop of the new found boldness of the Nigerian Immigration officials who now travel for about 6000km from Nigeria to Sweden from time to time.
Their missions include “snapping photographs” and travelling back to process passports for their ( sometimes helpless) fellow citizens living in the cold Nordic zone.
When the present Nigerian ambassador to Sweden arrived in 2011 he made efforts aimed at fast-tracking the application process.
He had also made us to believe that he had been tackling the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) on the need to ensure that the Nigerian embassy in Sweden can independently issue passports to Nigerians living in Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Finland. His efforts have not yielded the desired outcome.
Nigerians living in the Nordic area usually turn to the Nigerian embassy in Stockholm for services relating to passport renewal and other important services that the embassy can help with.
It is therefore both scandalous and disgraceful that the Nigerian embassy in Sweden does not have the capability to process and issue Nigerian passport for Nigerians living in the countries mentioned above.
In the past the story was about “the passports are made in London”. Now it is well known that Nigerian Immigration officials travel all the way from Nigeria to Sweden on a certain day and an announcement is sent by sms to Nigerians connected to the Nigerian Union. The Information is also available online (see http://www.nigerianembassysweden.se).
Here below is the mission of the Nigerian Immigration Officials who have travelled from Nigeria to Sweden.
[“Dear fellow Nigerians
Nigerian Immigration officials from Abuja arrived at the Nigerian Embassy today the 13th of March to assist Nigerian seeking to obtain the new E passport. The officers will be at the embassy in Stockholm until Friday the 16th of March 2012
Those wishing to secure the new E passport should report at the Embassy of Nigerian in Stockholm, with the following requirements.
1. Identification document in form of a Nigerian passport, Swedish passport, A Swedish ID card or equivalent
2. passport photographs
3. A letter of authorisation from parents for children seeking the passport
4. A passport fee of 700: Swedish Crowns
Call the Nigerian Embassy to confirm if you are unsure of your particular requirements”]
The information on the embassy’s website is not the same as the sms that has been sent by the Nigerian Union. Somebody had lied about the dates and I won’t be shock if the purpose is to create panic. On the website the duration of the wasteful presence of the NIS officials is 2 weeks.
In any case this story solidifies what is known about the nature of corruption in Nigeria. Corruption and the display of intellectual deficiency are so endemic that the winning argument as at today is that there is no hope for Nigeria.
I have no doubts that the fact that the Nigerian embassy in Sweden has no passport processing machine is because the NIS director or senior officials find it convenient to embezzle funds by sending some favoured or selected officials to Sweden. If they are here themselves, it won’t be shocking.
The NIS by these acts/attitudes is showing the world that it is incapable and irresponsible.
I am convinced that it is cheaper for the Nigerian government to deliver an authentic passport machine to provide for the needs of Nigerians living in the Nordic countries than sending some already officials to Sweden every now and then. The smell of corruption is too hard to ignore.
Why buy a cow when the milk is so cheap?
The Nigerian government in the past and now has never pretended about her profligacy. When Goodluck Jonathan visited Sweden at the time Mr. Igali was still the ambassador, the Swedish government was left in shock at the display of opulence, waste and reckless spending.
It was so bad that it probably led to the cancellation of the remaining scholarship opportunities for Nigerian students studying in Sweden. A Nigerian student Mr. Oyebanji was quickly referred to Nigerian politicians when he sought a scholarship offer.
Nigerian diplomats and government officials don’t like to read about criticisms of their offices or actions. They want to read about only positive things about Nigeria.
How can they forget the sufferings of the Nigerian people at home and abroad? Nigerians suffer untold trauma when they try to renew their passports. It is one of the worst nightmares that a Nigerian faces, far from home. We must write and talk about these things.
To have an international passport is the right of every Nigerian.
It is not a privilege and all these senseless procedures that infringed on the rights of the Nigerian (like sending immigration officials from Nigeria to Sweden and sending sms to people) must be condemned in the strongest ways possible. These procedures are ridiculous, archaic and unacceptable.
It is even appalling considering that the Nordic countries are ranked among the best places to live on earth. The last time I checked it took 24 hours to renew a passport in Sweden.
The Nigerian Immigration officials should be ashamed of their misadventures in Sweden. How do they feel about living in Sweden for 2 weeks (13th to 27th) just for the purpose of “taking pictures” and flying applications for over 5998km?
It will probably take 6 months before the passports are ready for collection. The information about the collection procedure is another source of worry.
For example, information from the embassy reads:
[“This is to inform Nigerians that the passport renewal that took place in June is now available for pick-up by those that participated in the exercise. Those residents in Stockholm can come to the Embassy to pick up their passports. While those residents in Goteborg, Denmark, Finland and Norway should contact their respective Nigerian Union to know when they can go over to them to pick up their passports”]
These delivery procedures do not meet internationally accepted standards and should be amended without delay.
If the Swedish Police can renew the passport of Swedes in 24 hours then it suffixes to state that one of the plans of the Nigerian embassy in Stockholm should be to tap from the wealth of technical knowledge in its environment.
But this will even remain a farther mirage if the Nigerian Immigration Services continues to send its officials to Sweden instead of sending the machines that are needed to do the jobs.
The NIS must know that it can fool some people sometimes but it cannot fool all the people all the time. Enough of these corrupt practices, stop sending your officials to Sweden! It is a stupid and laughable misadventure.
For as long as Nigeria exists, the NIS should perform its functions in Nigeria and let the embassies take over the functions of providing fully for the needs of Nigerians living abroad.