Put embassies in order, Diaspora protester tells Foreign Minister •Anti-fraud protest holds March 31 outside Nigeria High Commission London

Posted by Temitope Olodo | 27 March 2017 | 2,666 times

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•Nigerian Diaspora activist Joy Jobi and Foreign Affairs Minister Godfrey Onyeama.

At exactly 11:35am on 28th February 2017, Joy Jobi aired her view on a matter of concern to her. But little did she know that within three days, from 28th of February to March 1, she will stir up a debate that would result in over 28,000 views of her two videos posted on Facebook over the corrupt and fraudulent activities at Nigerian High Commission in London.

Nigeria Diaspora Security Forum secured an exclusive interview with this ‘new face’ of the Diaspora that is taking the Nigeria Diaspora community by storm. The Italy-born lady of Nigerian heritage refuses to accept ‘No’ for an answer. And through her advocacy, she is drawing attention to the corruption that has eaten deep into the fibre of Nigerian community, both home and abroad.

All the visible Nigerian community leaders have kept mute on the matter, hoping it is a ‘nightmare’ that would go away. But the Italian stallion is focused on the goal and refusing to compromise on her stands for a better customer service for Nigerians in the Diaspora.

In exactly 11 days, Nigerians from all around the United Kingdom, representing both the elderly and the young, would meet outside Nigeria High Commission to protest corrupt practices linked to passport issue. One person eager to me at that protest told NDSF in confidence that “the Nigerian High Commission issued a travelling document to her estranged husband to travel to her son out of the United Kingdom on a dodgy name.” That is how corrupt the system is.

This protest is coming at a time when the embattled Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, was recently ‘dressed down’ by Nigerians in South Africa over the handling of the xenophobic attacks.

The allegation of corruption in Nigeria’s foreign missions is not a new phenomenon, but many assumed that with the era of change sweeping the country officials would avoid any form of corruption, but the contrary is the case, with officials leaving passport seekers in tears.

So far, the Nigerian High Commission, CANUK nor NIDEO refused to officially engage Joy Jobi, instead they have continued to speak to themselves and applaud each other for a job well done. In an exclusive interview, Joy Jobi explains what motivated her and how she views the ongoing challenges.

Nigerian President, Muhammad Buhari, was elected on the CHANGE agenda; do you honestly believe that NHC need to change their handling of passport issues?

Yes I do. The current situation is not in line with the president’s mandate. A change in operational delivery and customer service needs to be looked into as a priority. A change to their website, which is not simple or clear to navigate and has no accountability as to who authorises changes and when they are done. A change in how we get complaints handled and queries replied to in a timely manner. A change in not knowing the names of those rendering these services, as they are not wearing clear name-badges to be called to account for unsatisfactory behaviour or service when facing the public.

When you sent your concerns and letter of intent to Nigerian High Commission in London, did you receive an acknowledgment or reply?

No. Sadly, I have had no one from their office contact me.

Has anyone contacted you from within the community, to try and resolve the challenges maturely? And what is your view on the way forward?

I was contacted, but soon found out it was with an agenda and personal gain. Once I realised I was being used for ‘politricks’, I withdrew. I have since been contacted by NTTG UK (Nigerian Think Tank Group) and we are having constructive dialogue at the moment, but time will tell if this will be a success.

Are you aware of any refund policy at the Nigerian High Commission for unissued passports?

There is nothing on the Nigerian High Commission (London) site. But I am aware via the payment portal, innovate1services.com. This, however, can take up to six-eight weeks, which I think is too long a time to get your money back, for services inefficiently rendered.

Have you been approached or contacted by any official of organised Nigeria Professional Organisation (NIDEO), to meditate or help address the plight of Nigerians on the passport issue?

Sadly, no! I have not. It only makes me question why these organisations are set up and who they are actually helping, as it doesn’t seem to be helping ‘us’ alongside some other organisations who carry their mandate of rallying Nigerians, promote information sharing, provide cooperation and guidance, etc. This would have been a perfect opportunity for them to come forward and gather like-minds, like myself, who not only are calling out inefficiency but want to be a part of the solution and changes.

Do you believe community organisations like CANUK are delivering for Nigerians outside the M25 like Luton, Manchester and Birmingham, in terms of engaging with them when they have difficult situations like yours?

 Not at all! In fact, most Nigerians are not even aware of them and what they are meant to do for the community. Up till now there has been no formal statement from them regarding this issue and what they are even trying to do about it.

Has anyone tried to intimidate you to abandon the protest of 31st March, 2017?

Yes. Sadly, there has been a lot of scare-mongering that I may be blacklisted from ever getting my passport or if I do get it and go to Nigeria I may be picked up by DSS on arrival. It’s sad that in exercising my human right to free speech this has been said, but will not relent. The 31st will take place as scheduled, from 11am-2pm, and I will continue the campaign thereafter until there are changes; and Nigerians can say they have seen the changes and that the system is working.

What is motivating Joy Jobi?

I live in a society that values service as much as its customers on every level, both internally as well as externally, from public sector to private sector. The London Consulate for Nigeria should be leading by example for its other consulates around the world. There are too many resources available for the improvement of services to citizens, for us to allow this level of inefficiency to continue. I want better service for my people in the Diaspora, and for my country. The time to start calling all public sector organisations and their officials out is now. I have a responsibility, as a citizen and stakeholder, to ensure that things get better for Nigeria as well as for my fellow citizens.

Do you deem it as CORRUPTION if you apply for a passport and it is not issued, and you are not receiving a response from the issuing authority?

Yes, not only that but fraud. If this were to be a private organisation, we would be calling it fraud and demanding a refund or compensation. I have brought it to the attention of the Consumer Protection Council in Nigeria (as the consulate is ruled under Nigerian Law and governance). Sadly, they too have failed to reply my complaint, though their DG, Dupe Atoki, has said the council is non-biased, and was set up not only for private sector services, but public also.

If you have an opportunity to speak directly to Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, what would be your message to him?

It looks like your ministry is not coping or lacks leadership and management dealing with this. You have a fleet of resource in the Nigerian people who are trained, qualified and are ready to assist in the vision of restoring the glory of Nigeria, call on us. In the same way, our forefathers got Western education and returned home to eventually liberate Nigeria from her colonial masters, grant the same opportunity by first allowing us to have passports in a timely manner and open dialogue with us here who know and do better, working and living under the systems in the West, which work for the majority of its citizens and those in its abode.

Thousands have viewed your broadcast around the world and some are referring to your protest for change the ‘Diaspora Spring’ against corruption. What’s your take on that?

I am humbled, but saddened that in 2017 this is what it has come to just to get a basic level of service and treatment. I will say, however, this is not against the present administration or that of its predecessors. This is about a system that is broken, failed and has been rendered useless and inefficient in every sector, to which no one is calling out or willing to review, refine and implement; for not only now but for generations after us. Our systems should work, irrespective of elected parties or officials. It is sad that Nigerians, both in and out of our country, do not realise the obligation we have also not to yield to corruption, which continues to fester and which is actually destroying every aspect of Nigerian existence. We should not have to pay a Police officer a little ‘something something’ for doing their job. A Customs officer should not just assume that opening and checking a person’s luggage warrants a little extra on the side and made to feel like gods who can determine if you make your flight or not, based on you lining their pockets. We should not have to pay for passports for over six months, only to be given notice after the point of transaction and as many months about the lack of passports, with no reason as to why. This has to stop!

Where were you born, and what is your view of the Diaspora right to demand good customer service from Nigeria’s foreign posts around the world.

I was born in Italy, but I identify myself as being a Nigerian. This shouldn’t be something we have to demand. It should just be. Leaders in the West seek out ways of making things better for their citizens and their residents. Why must we beg for something as simple but also as powerful as a passport, for without which Nigerians in the Diaspora cannot travel, apply for jobs or enroll in school or even prove who they are or make further applications to the Home Office; without being is breach of overstaying because their consulate cannot provide them a valid passport in the time frame they said they would.

What’s your advice to people that have not made up their mind to join you at NHC on 31st of March?

You have an opportunity to make history, to be a part of the change you want to see. To change things not only for yourself but for your children and grandchildren also. To set a ripple effect for democracy, free speech; to challenge and change as well as to arouse those at home sleeping in ignorance to their rights, as a human being and under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If you cannot stand physically on the 31st, stand by signing the petition on Change.org.

We have not, because we have asked not. It’s time to start asking, time to start pushing past the status quo that corruption is a normal way of living by not yielding to it and into a new dawn of efficiency and accountability, for all who believe and fall under the  green, white and green flag. Do not deprive the future generations (especially those born outside of Nigeria, like myself) of being able to call Nigeria theirs also. 

This campaign is not about me, it’s about ALL of us. So, Arise o compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey. It’s time to defend her unity, uphold her honour and glory.

•Temitope Olodo, is a Preventive Terrorism Expert, Author and Chair of Nigeria Diaspora Security Forum based in the UK.

Source: News Express

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