Opinion: Nigerian embassies of shame by Tunde Odesola (2)
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 20, 2021)
With a tongue roughly twice the length of its body, and a brocade of dubious colours for skin, the chameleon is the ultimate invisible animal predator.
Without premonition, small creatures like worms and insects searching for daily bread disappear suddenly into the Bermuda Triangle in the belly of the dodgy chameleon via a sticky, snappy tongue.
Like worms and insects, in June 2021 alone, 1,032 Nigerians met sudden death in the hands of gunmen and kidnappers across the country, according to a fresh security report.
Approximately, the 1,032 casualty figure translates to 34.4 wasted lives per day, excluding deaths by sicknesses, auto accidents, extrajudicial killings, ritual killings, etc in a peaceful country in pieces.
Home or abroad, the fate of the average Nigerian is mournful.
Home-based Nigerians are plagued by physical and psychological deaths just like Nigerians abroad are not spared psychological torture and humiliation in Nigerian embassies.
The overwhelming corruption yet pervading most Nigerian embassies despite numberless media reports in the last six years attests to the failure of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari led-regime in curbing dishonest dealings that have cemented the green passport in the hall of infamy.
Lamenting the nasty treatment she went through in the hands of officials at the Nigeria High Commission in the UK, a registered nurse, Kemi Samuel, who has lived in England for over three decades, said she suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder whenever she visited the commission.
A registered nurse with more than 30 years under her belt, Samuel recalled that every Nigerian in England, notwithstanding their locations, was required to physically come to obtain visas, renew passports or get new ones.
Samuel explained that it was ridiculous that she renewed her 10-year British passport within two hours at Her Royal Majesty Passport Office, Globe House, London, while she laboured to renew her five-year Nigerian passport after visiting the high commission on seven different occasions.
She said, “If you want your British passport to be done as an emergency, you need to visit the passport office, but if you want to follow the normal process, it will arrive in your mail within four to five days.
“The reverse is the case in the Nigeria High Commission, where officials allow applicants to shunt the queue after bribing them. The officials were nasty to young and old, and they’ve no regard for children, women and the physically challenged. I was breastfeeding my baby and I had to leave my work each time I visited, meaning that I was losing money.
“In 1997, an immigration officer wanted to steal my passport at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. He hid my passport among the documents he was clutching and he said I didn’t give him my passport, and he was trying to walk away. I raised my voice and told him to bring out my passport from among the papers in his hands.
“In 2010 when I wanted to renew my passport, they said there were no booklets from Abuja, so I had to use my British passport.
“Between February and August of 2016, my daughter and I visited the high commission over 20 times to renew our passports! Nigerians came from other European countries to renew their passports, too.
“There was the pitiable case of a female Nigerian student who needed her passport to renew her studentship. She said that was the 11th time she had come to the commission.
“When we got to Nigeria, the carousel didn’t work as there was no light at the airport, prompting passengers to use the light of the phones. All that was strange to my daughter who suddenly felt pressed to use the toilet. She ran out of the toilet when she saw heaps of maggots.”
A Nigerian resident in Houston, Texas, who doesn’t want his name in print, lamented that he was asked to pay an unreceipted $20 as car park fee at the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta, Georgia.
The 50-year-old applicant, who is from southern Nigeria, said, “The embassy won’t process applications for more than one year, and after the expiration of one year, the applicant will be required to pay a fresh $195 as passport fee. Since it was the embassy that failed to produce passports as and when due, applicants should not be made to pay twice for passports.”
Nicknamed BB, the sad Nigerian also alleged that his online application was changed and ‘sold’ by embassy officials to another applicant who had bribed them.
“I picked up my American passport that can enable me to enter about 200 countries visa-free in my mailbox. I don’t know why my Nigerian passport, which nobody wants to see, is so problematic,” he said.
Complaining about the terrible treatment meted out to visa and passport applicants at the Nigeria High Commission in London, a Nigerian, Sunday John, said applicants were never given appointment when they apply online.
He said, “They won’t give you an appointment when you apply online because they make money by giving appointments to those who have bribed them.
“Passport fee is 75 pounds but they will charge you between 300 and 700 pounds through the backdoor. I refused to pay, and I’ve since not been able to take my wife and three children to see my mum in Nigeria.
“I wanted to open a business account but because I’m not British yet, my nationality was required. The non-issuance of a passport to me has put the business I’m planning to do on hold. I’ve vowed not to bribe them because if I do so, I’ll be encouraging corruption. Sadly, other African nationals in England get their passports in a matter of days.”
Sharing his ordeal, another Nigerian, Mr Frederick Oluwole, who has lived in New York for over 30 years, said passport production at the Nigerian embassy in Manhattan was delayed because of lack of ‘nylon’ covering for passport pages.
Oluwole said, “They took my unsigned money order from me. They didn’t allow me to write my name on it. What they would later do is to write their own name on it and collect the money on the order, and pocket it.
“They talk down on you as if they’re doing you a favour. An official had to fly to Nigeria to bring common ‘nylon’ which could have been sent through courier.”
It’s the same hopeless song in Ottawa where the Nigerian embassy in Canada is located.
Narrating his nightmare, a Nigerian, Valentine Abiodun, disclosed that calls to the embassy were never picked.
“When someone eventually picked my call after weeks of calling, I told him I had been calling the embassy repeatedly, the officer said he travelled. I was shocked, and I told him the embassy wasn’t a private business that should be held up by an official.
“I told him I had sent in my passport for renewal. He told me they’ve not received it. Because I was tracking the passport, I told him who received it at the embassy.
“Then, he said I should call back. When I called back, he said he had seen it, adding that he would stamp and send it to me through mail. I said he shouldn’t. By 2am that night, I got a car and travelled down to Ottawa, getting to the embassy in the morning to pick my passport.”
A young Nigerian living in Mississauga, Ontario, Emmanuel Ogunlade, said he just received his renewed passport, which he had been processing since January 2020, two weeks ago.
Ogunlade said, “It was a terrible experience. I travelled to the Nigerian embassy, Ottawa, a journey of 427km, thrice after uncountable calls that were not answered before my passport was renewed even as I paid $23 twice for prepaid envelopes. They sent an email saying that they’ve sent my passport to me, but it was false. They later admitted they’ve not sent it.”
An anonymous female resident of Dubai said Nigerians now go to Abu Dhabi from Dubai to obtain their passports because of the hardship encountered at the Nigerian embassy in Dubai.
Uhhmm, Nigeria, under Buhari, is rich in corruption, home and abroad.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Opinion: Buhari is worst president, Ortom is right, by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 6, 2021)
Hooray! The leaves are falling! It’s autumn, the evening of the four seasons. Harvested crops and fruits, in baskets, are heading to barns from farms.
Winter, spring, summer and autumn. Each period of the season walks on three legs. December, January and February are the three legs of Winter, Spring springs on March, April and May; Summer walks in the sun of June, July and August while Autumn descends the stairs of the season into September, October and November.
Autumn is the birthing of the farmer’s long-planted seeds of hope, which undergo fertilisation and growth in spring, and maturation in summer. It’s the period when farmers reap the fruits of their labour. When sweat is sweet.
Autumn, aka Fall, is the period before winter which is the coldest of the seasons. And winter connotes nightfall or death when to sleep is to wake and to die is to live.
But autumn is not the period when Samuel Ortom, governor of Nigeria’s food basket, Benue State, should dare Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), a 78-year-old herdsman, whom he described as the worst leader ever when it comes to security, corruption, economy, human rights, press freedom and keeping promises.
Not a herdsman, Ortom, a governor and a rancher, made some of his bulky allegations in August. And as the allegations rage into autumn, Ortom has yet to renounce his heresy against Buhari, the great Fulani president.
Call it a jinx, I don’t care; August is never Buhari’s lucky month, it’s December, the month of his birth, when like Macbeth, ambition overtook him and he stabbed to death the democratically elected government of the late President Shehu Shagari, a fellow Fulani, in the final hours of December 31, 1983. Macbeth wasn’t lucky with August, either – he was killed on August 15, 1057.
Call it the height of cold-bloodedness, if you care; the bloodiest of Nigeria’s generals, Ibrahim Babangida, likewise, chose his birth month, August, to drive the dagger into the back of Buhari, his former boss, in a palace coup on August 27, 1985. Is there an art to find the mind’s construction on the face? I doubt it. But I know karma is consistent.
According to the Ortom of Benue, nothing good can ever come out of the Buhari regime in all the periods of the season – winter, spring, summer and autumn.
In August, Ortom said on Channels TV, “Mr President has a set mind. Mr President believes that for peace to reign in Nigeria, there must be open grazing, there must be provision for cattle routes…It is very clear that he (Buhari) wants to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria. But he’s not the first Fulani president, (Shehu) Shagari was Fulani president, (Umaru) Yar’Adua was Fulani president, they were the best presidents in history, but President Buhari is the worst.”
There seems to be nothing august in August for Buhari. Reacting to the abduction of a major and the killing of two soldiers at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, in August, retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi, who described himself as a Professor of Global Security Studies, in an interview monitored on Channels Television, said known sponsors of Boko Haram live in Aso Rock.
He said, “Recently, 400 people were gathered as sponsors of Boko Haram. Why is it that the Buhari government has refused to try them? Why can’t this government bring them to trial if not that they are partisan and part of the charade that is going on?
“You remember this Boko Haram issue started in 2012 and I was in the Military Intelligence at that time. We arrested those people. My organisation actually conducted interrogation and they (suspects) mentioned names.
“I can’t come on air and start mentioning names of people that are presently in government that I know that the boys that we arrested mentioned. Some of them are governors now, some of them are in the Senate, some of them are in Aso Rock.
“Some people have the mindset to Islamise the nation and they are in government. The DSS knows them, the NIA knows them, the DIA knows them because it is the DIA that conducted the operations that arrested the (400) suspects.”
To whom much is given, much is expected. If a commoner like me know that August isn’t Buhari’s favourite month, why didn’t Ortom, a seasoned politician, and Olawunmi, the courageous navy commodore know? This is why I will depart, at this juncture, from Ortom and Olawunmi, and return my unalloyed allegiance to President Buhari, who is bigger than Nigeria’s Constitution.
If you think the President isn’t bigger than the country plus her Constitution, why was the Central Bank Act prohibiting the abuse of the naira suspended whenever Buhari’s children are wedding?
Even Buhari is bigger than religious laws. Or, why was the merciless-on-the-poor, acquiescing-to-rich Kano Islamic police, Hisbah, not at the wedding of the President’s son, Yusuf, to Zahra, the daughter of the Emir of Bichi, Nasir Ado Bayero, to arrest guests who wore outlawed haircuts such as Afro and mohawk?
Some of the great Hisbah police prescriptions for godly living include banning of lewd music, banning commercial motorcyclists from carrying two females at a time; banning of alcohol consumption, and banning boutiques from displaying clothes on full mannequins – you must remove the heads of the mannequins because they promote idolatry.
Many poor people have received varying degrees of punishments, including public shaving of hair and public flogging for contravening these paradise-seeking laws.
But the ears of Hisbah police were deaf to the lewd Naira Marley song, “I’m Coming,” sung at Yusuf’s wedding and its eyes were blind to the cleavage-revealing clothes worn by some female guests.
Did you see the video of the prodigal bus ride of Yusuf’s silver-spoon friends that attended the wedding, and the security around the bus?
Did you see the hysterical sons of Nigeria’s leaders donating naira and dollars worth over N500,000 to their bus driver, who was merely doing his work, even as they made a lousy show of it?
A particular scene in the viral video shocked me. Yes, e shock me. It was the handsome young man referred to as Osinbajo by his boisterous friends. He donated $100 on behalf of ‘me and my brothers in the South-West’. I ask, are the millions of unemployed graduates and touts in the South-West part of the young Osinbajo’s brothers? There’s God o.
Did you notice the dexterity with which Osinbajo peeled a $100 bill from inside his bag with his two hands, a move suggesting that a lot of more dollars were still in the rich black bag.
I watched another viral video. This time, from Afghanistan. It taught a great lesson in integrity. It was the video of Afghanistan former Minister of Communications, Sayed Sadaat, who now delivers food on a bicycle in Germany.
Talking about his new job, the 49-year-old British-Afghan dual citizen said both his job as minister in Afghanistan and delivery man in Germany involved serving people.
Sadaat, who holds degrees in IT and Telecommunications, and hopes to take up a job in the telecoms industry as soon as he learns basic German, said he was not ashamed of his current job.
Sadaat served for two years as minister, and voluntarily quit his post in 2020 because he didn’t want to soil his hands.
Explaining that he was proud of his new job, Sadaat said he could have made millions of dollars as minister.
“I could have bought buildings in Germany and hotels in Dubai, I wouldn’t have needed to work. But I’m proud that my soul is happy and I have nothing to be guilty (about). So, I’m doing an ordinary job. I hope other politicians also follow the same way to work with the public,” he told journalists.
May God bless Nigeria with leaders like Sadaat, amen.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Opinion: Buhari: Our president, their patient, by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH and Tunde Odesola.com on Monday, August 23, 2021)
His name outnumbers the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Arguably, the most creative hands to ever hold a chisel and a paintbrush, but unmistakably the sublime genius embodying the inventive force of the Renaissance Age.
A sculptor, painter, architect, poet and engineer, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni is the 38-letter name a little wizard was given at birth. But the world picked Michelangelo from the names and stuck it to his forehead.
A year before he died at age 88, Michelangelo, an Italian, who lived between March 6, 1475 and February 18, 1564, wrote in Italian language on a sketch he was working on, “Ancora Imparo,” meaning, “I’m still learning.”
The quote is akin to the pearl of wisdom from compatriot, fellow polymath and older rival, Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452–May 2, 1519), who had earlier said, “Learning never exhausts the mind.”
For Michelangelo, every work of art he embarks on is a challenge, a task accomplishable on the flourish of his brilliance. He defines his raison d’être in these enduring words, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
I affirm that Michelangelo’s imperishable legacy stands on four cardinal pillars: learn, discover, act and set free. These, for me, are the hallmarks of great leaders, great epochs.
Depressingly, however, these same pillars are conspicuously absent in the regime of Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), which comes across as standing on the pillars of ignorance, neglect, inertia and persecution.
Whereas Michelangelo describes learning as a life-long process, President Buhari appears to see life from a short-sighted spectrum, having not learnt any economic and patriotic lessons from his over 40 years of medical tourism to the United Kingdom.
In an unlearned defence of government policy, Information and Culture minister, Lai Mohammed; and Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, severally said it was right for the President to patronise foreign medical services for over 40 years.
This is despite the fact that Made-in-Nigeria doctors, who migrated abroad as a result of the rickety state of Nigeria’s medicare, today hold vital positions in first-class hospitals worldwide, potentially including Buhari’s hospital in the UK.
Last Thursday, Mohammed, in a display of the confusion that has continuously characterised the Buhari regime in the last six years, said those criticising the President for seeking medical care abroad were making ‘inconsequential attempts to de-market him’.
In a jejune defence, Adesina also said, “President Buhari has been with the same doctors and medical team for upward of 40 years. It is advisable that he continues with those who know his medical history and that is why he comes to London to see them. He has used the same medical team for OVER 40 years. Once you can afford it, then stay with the team that has your history.”
With soaraway inflation crippling Nigerians, Adesina should know that Nigeria cannot afford the unending presidential flights to the UK and the sacks of pound sterling in medical fee for gerontocratic ailments treatable in Nigeria.
The hotness of Lai Mohammed’s sophistry and the coldness of Adesina’s remarks will win trophies in Sodom and Gomorrah.
The display of profound arrogance by both Buhari spokespersons runs against the time-tested advice for caution in a Yoruba proverb that says, “When a man is sent on an errand fit for a slave, he should display discretion.”
What would Buhari and his image-makers say about Aisha, the wife of the President, who went to Dubai last year to treat neck pain? Dubai doctors must have been treating Aisha from the womb, right?
In a move to deflect public criticism from her neck-pain trip, Aisha spun the red herring fallacy when she said her flight back to Nigeria encountered a turbulent storm, hoping to mask the wastage of public funds, which her trip symbolises, with public sympathy.
Then she pushed her luck over the precipice and rubbed insult into injury by saying, “I, therefore, call on the healthcare providers to take advantage of the Federal Government’s initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria guidelines for the operation of N100bn credit support for the healthcare sector as was released (and) recently contained in a circular dated March 25, 2020, to commercial banks.
“This will, no doubt, help in building and expanding the capacity of the Nigerian health sector and ultimately reduce medical trips and tourism outside the country.”
What hypocrisy! Scarcely had Aisha’s flight from Dubai touched down than she started to talk about reducing medical tourism. If she knew that medical tourism was a drain on Nigeria’s economy, why did she embark on it? Nigerians, whose taxes are being used to maintain Buhari and his family’s expensive lifestyle, are grumbling, ‘like husband, like wife’.
In 2017, Aisha had lamented that there was no syringe in Aso Rock Clinic, Abuja, when she fell sick. She revealed that, “In the end I had to go to a hospital (in Nigeria) owned and operated by foreigners 100 per cent.”
Similarly, Aisha’s daughter, Zahra had, also in 2017, said there was no Paracetamol in Aso Rock Clinic despite a budget of N3bn for the provision of drugs to the hospital.
That this insane level of corruption could happen under Buhari’s nose without perpetrators fearing the consequences of their action indicates a rudderless Nigerian ship careening against the rocks of insecurity, unemployment, hopelessness and poverty, heading for doom.
When Buhari, who has completely lost the fear factor, doesn’t care about the corruption perpetrated with the precincts of his residence, how would he care about the slaying of farmers by Fulani herdsmen in Igboho or the killings by unknown gunmen in Owerri? How would he care about the kidnapping of schoolchildren in the North or the bloodletting in the Middle Belt? Or care about the worse-than-pigsty hostels in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka?
If Buhari had done something about the anomaly in Aso Rock Clinic since 2017, Aisha wouldn’t have embarked on a neck-pain trip to Dubai in 2020.
When you minus 40 years from Buhari’s 78 years, you have 38 years. For someone who joined the military in 1962 at the age of 19, this means that Buhari had received medical treatment in Nigeria for 19 years, that is, up till 1981 when he was a colonel who had been Military Secretary at the Army Headquarters, a member of the Supreme Military Council, and had been GOC of the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Mechanised Division, and the 3rd Armoured Division.
I ask, why did Buhari stop receiving treatment in the good, old Nigeria where doctors had his medical records for 19 years?
And if Buhari says he’s been receiving medical treatment abroad in the last 40 years, that suggests that he was receiving medical treatment in the UK between 1983 and 1985 when he headed a military junta that toppled the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983 over allegations that the civilian government was ostentatious and corrupt.
This act of hypocrisy runs contrary to the War Against Indiscipline mantra upon which Buhari and his deputy, Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbaon, rode to power.
In Buhari’s lip-service War Against Indiscipline, public officers were forbidden to own foreign accounts, own houses abroad, send their children to foreign schools, send their underage children on pilgrimage, among other prohibitions.
But when Nigeria’s bloodiest military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida, torpedoed the Buhari-Idiagbon fascism on August 27, 1985, Idiagbon had gone on holy pilgrimage to Mecca with his underaged son, Adekunle, showcasing another classical hypocrisy of Buhari’s leadership.
Nothing demarkets Nigeria more than Buhari’s over 40 years of medical tourism.
Then British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in May 2016, during a conversation with Queen Elizabeth II, described Nigeria and Afghanistan as ‘fantastically corrupt’.
Cameron is right.
Email: Tunde Odesola.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
FG bans SS1, SS2 students from participating in WASSCE, NECO, NABTEB
Buhari set to address UN General Assembly
VAT claim is about fiscal federalism- Lagos State
Customs: Vehicle tariff reduction to begin next week
CCECC completes Apapa port link to Lagos-Ibadan railway
Biden, Treasury Secretary say Republicans COVID-19 aid too small
BBNaija: Tega finally meets husband, shares photos of kisses, hugs
BOMA CURSES ANGEL IN HEATED FIGHT, CALLS HER A MENTAL PATIENT
SASKAY AND JAYPAUL KISS PASSIONATELY AS CROSSKAY SHIPPERS REMOVE HER NAME FROM GROUP
News5 days ago
Anxiety over plans to truncate inauguration of NDDC board
Business2 days ago
Buhari wants petroleum, finance ministers removed from NNPC board
Uncategorized5 days ago
Buhari names Senator Ararume chairman of NNPC board
Latest News22 hours ago
Updated: Army apologises over military officer assault on lady corper (with video)
News5 days ago
Middle belt, Kaduna group allege conspiracy over Mailafia’s death
News6 days ago
Defection: Gumi knocks Fani-Kayode, calls him ‘Judas of Oduduwa’
Politics4 days ago
Hakeem Baba-Ahmed: Heaven won’t fall if another Northerner is elected President
News7 days ago
Igboho: FG to appeal N20bn damages against DSS –Malami