Friday, July 28, 2006

Have You Seen Tunde Babalola?

Life is very funny, the person you dont know they say is only three persons away. I had first seen this caption in my inbox which I received from my secondary school mailgroup. I read it, felt bad, prayed for the family and .........put it behind me.

Only yesterday, I was going through LamikayTy!, Toyin Lamikanra's blog where I got the post below from when I was faced with the fact that the missing person maybe someone I know.

I read from Toyin's blog that missing person's sister is Busola Daodu, and I have a friend named Femi Daodu who attended same secondary school and university and is married to a Busola. I racked my brains to rememebr Busola's maiden name. When I tried Busola seemed like it fitted perfectly.

I was thrown into a brief shock and I immediately sent an offline message to Femi on Yahoo! messenger to ask him about the incident.

This morning as I resumed in the office, booted my laptop and signed in to my Yahoo! messenger, an offline message came up. It was from Femi Daodu, it read
"titi, you are correct, he is Busola's brother."

My worst fears were confirmed. Tunde Babalola is Femi Daodu's brother-in-law. Now, I have to do more than my "feel bad and pray for the family" effort. I am posting the notice on my blog......

Please help in any way you can. You can copy this notice below and forward to your mailgroups, tell your friends about it, tell any influential person yo may have relations with...... Kindly do anything and all you can to help find Tunde Babalola.

The Babalola family has been thrown into anguish and sorrow over their son Tunde, who has been missing since Monday June 19th 2006.

Tunde is the first son of a recently widowed Nigerian mother whose health has been deteriorating as a result of his disappearance. She has been shouldering the responsibility of looking for him without much help from the police, the NYSC and the Enugu state government.

His sister Busola Daodu describes him in these words; "My brother Tunde Babalola is 24 years old, 6 feet tall, light complexioned and slim. He was last seen wearing a black trouser, white shirt and sandals. He has brown eyes and slightly brown hair which he wears in a low cut. He is a Christian and has no facial marks. He goes to cybercaf├ęs a lot, and attends the NCCF fellowship and his place of primary assignment -Nkanu East local government - Enugu state, he is a quiet person and doesn't really go out much"

Information available to the family says that Tunde left the NCCF lodge in Emene-Enugu on Monday 19th of June and has not been seen ever since.

In an email conversation over Tunde's disappearance, Tope Ganiyat Fajingbesi who runs the NGO United For Kids Foundation says that "It is sad that Nigeria is at the stage where agencies like the NYSC and the entire government do not realise the enormous responsibility involved with posting citizens on primary assignments, this sort of case should have the Government and NYSC on their feet looking for Tunde because they are responsible for him, since he was in Enugu diligently serving his country, in the light of this lack of responsibility, I beg you, fellow Nigerians, to please help the Babalola family and friends to help find Tunde alive and well", she concluded.

The family though has not given up hope of finding Tunde alive; his passing out parade from the NYSC program is scheduled for next month, and they are holding out hope that their son will come back home, just like other corps members who will be going back to their families after the passing out parade.
The family's major worry is that there is currently no one on ground at Enugu searching for him. Their message is for Nigerians to help spread this news especially to anyone who lives in Enugu state and anyone who can join in the search for this charming young man.

If you have any information as to his whereabouts, please call +234- 8033935720, email or contact All Saints Church Yaba, Lagos or the nearest police station.

culled from

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Friend's Green Passport

Hmm.. here we go again

I don’t specifically know what must be going on in my friend's mind, cos she's putting up a strong face I think..., and I think I believe she would be feeling down but she's saying it's not true.

My friend packed her bags from the beautiful city of Jo'burg, South Africa to come home to Nigeria in order to apply for a visa to attend a meeting in the Netherlands billed to hold from July 11-15 where she is to deliver training on the last day and she also decided to use the opportunity to process her Study Permit extension.

She was homebound to Lagos on Sunday, July 2 via a Virgin Nigeria flight. Forgetting she was coming to Nigeria, she planned to go to the embassy on Monday, do an interview on Tuesday and get visa before the end of the week, travel to the Netherlands on Saturday and return to Jo’burg by the next Sunday. She didn't even plan to play with family for a long time during her stay but was forced to courtesy of the Netherlands embassy, they weren't opening visa shop on Monday because of a reason I can’t remember and that meant their telephone line which is the only means for booking appointments was not going through.

Well, considering that my friend is blessed with the Nigeria's tenacity, she pressed on and kept on calling the line which would enter the switchboard, tell you to press 1 for visa purposes, press another 1 to book appointment and hold on for an answer………(which never came for my friend). As I said, she is a Nigerian, so instead of pressing the first 1, she pressed another number for general information.

And the general information given to her was to visit their website or send an e-mail to an address. She chose to pursue her goal further by sending an email to the address begging the person for an interview appointment. Guess what……, she succeed. She was given an appointment via the internet!

I must tell you, even though she didn’t say it, I’m sure she must have felt it was the hand of God and not man. She got an appointment for Wednesday. She flew to Abuja on Wednesday, stayed with me which I enjoyed very much (since I don’t really have friends in Abuja) and attended her interview on Wednesday. She was told to check back the next day for the status of her application.

The next day, she went to the embassy and she was told that she needed to present more documents which could only be received from her on Tuesday. That meant she was stuck in Abuja. She stayed back with me (we had a lovely time together, though I was working on an important project in the office, but we were able to visit an old friend of ours and another of hers).

She went to present the documents on Tuesday and she was again told to check back the next day, Wednesday. I was particularly optimistic that she would get a visa to attend the meeting.
Well dear all, she went to the Royal Dutch (Netherlands) Embassy on Wednesday and her passport was returned to her STAMPED with no visa and with a letter on Refusal of Visa application written in Dutch!

She went back to Lagos today and will deliver her training remotely from Nigeria with the aid of technology.

When will the reign of embassies come to an End in Nigeria???

Monday, July 03, 2006

My Green Passport

Anyone that works in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector or understands it will know that there are always conferences every now and then and in different parts of the world.

I had expected that my joining a Non-Governmental Organisation will undoubtedly come with all the goodies of the sector, a major one being Globe Trotting. To be truthful, I really looked forward to all the globe trotting experience I could ever get.

True to my expectations, two months into my joining the organisation, we started preparations for about 15 people to attend a conference which was being coordinated by my organisation and luckily, I was one of them.

I was glad that my plan of attempting to travel abroad only through legitimate means was coming to reality. I actually obtained my international passport in 2004 and since then, I had never presented it in any embassy just because I detested the way Nigerians are treated in embassies particularly the U.K and U.S embassies.

Well, we can say my passport has been what we call a Virgin Passport for the past 2 years since I had no engagement in any other country aside from my home country, Nigeria. My former employers only sent me to Port Harcourt, Warri, Abuja and the streets of Lagos and I looked forward to setting my feet on the soil of another country.

Back to my joining an NGO and being selected to attend the conference. The conference was billed to take place in Enschede, Netherlands and that certainly meant we needed to visit the Netherlands embassy which is situated in Abuja.

We made bookings for appointments at the embassy and we spent money on travel insurance, visa application fee (which was approximately 7,000 Nigeria Naira / application). After all the interviews were conducted, different issues started creeping out, first, they told one secondary school teacher that was being sponsored by one of our funders and lived in Minna to bring his marriage certificate. What connection did that have with him wanting to attend a conference?

On the day we were told to check status of the application, they returned all the students’ passports which we later discovered had been stamped the same day they went for the interview and as we continued going to check status for the remaining applications, they returned more stamped and visaless passports.

When we went for the last but one batch of passports comprising of 3 applications, ……….two visas were granted and one refused. That one was mine.

They had deflowered my virgin passport by adulterating it. I was furious and upon all, they still wanted me to sign one paper or so, of course, I declined.

I once again had no choice but to ponder on Nigeria and Nigerians considering the way these embassies milk billions out of poor and powerless Nigerians and the only thing our government does is to ignore it as if it is the globally acceptable way to do things.

I recently read about the new Minister of Foreign Affairs’ claim to treat this important issue and I pray something concrete that will make us smile comes out of it.

Why must Nigerians experience all the humiliation and degrading treatments from these devious embassies? Why have the embassies become our ‘god’ and critical prayer points in the churches, mosques and other religious worship centres?

I will like to know what you think about this issue. Please drop a comment.