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.