Tag Archives: Abuja

Excuse Me Mr. John Campbell, I Was Denied An American Visa!

By Adeola Aderounmu

Mr. John Campbell in faraway America is probably feeling the pain, frustration and disappointment that several thousands of Nigerians face monthly in Nigeria and elsewhere.

He was denied an entry visa to Nigeria because his application did not meet the stipulated requirements and he did not appear keen to fulfill the questions raised about his planned trip to Nigeria.

I am aware that Mr. Campbell wrote a book that did not go down well with the Nigerian Authority. He had predicted the fall of Nigeria latest 2015. I have no grouse with Mr. Campbell’s prediction. There would have been no Nigeria today if Mr. Lugard and his co-travelers did not loosely weld the different nations together in 1914.

It is therefore a matter of historical calculation that one day things will either fall apart or to their rightful places. It will take men and women whom the gods want to destroy to continue to deny the way Nigeria is heading. The outcomes of the recent elections in Nigeria are too remarkable to ignore.

The story of biological evolution taught us that remarkable changes can be extremely slow, but they do take place. This is my take on Nigeria today.

As I was saying, Mr. Campbell should learn to follow the right procedures and he should not in any way think that he is special. It doesn’t matter that he was a former US envoy to Nigeria. He is human like the rest. The US embassy in Abuja and the US State Department are looking into the matter and they have protested the visa denial.

The question now is: how many protest letters shall the Nigerian Foreign Ministry or the Nigerian Embassies around the world write on behalf of the thousands of Nigerians who have been mistreated and denied entry visas to several countries around the world?

Let me begin with my own story. In 2002/2003 I was a UNESCO scholar trying to find solutions to the malaria problems in the world. I was living in Stockholm and had spent my summer holiday in London that year.

As the autumn gave way I had 2 important assignments to fulfill. One was to present a paper in Lagos, a sort of update on my research. The second was to attend the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) meeting and make a poster presentation for one of my research papers.

To cut the story short the option of travelling to the US was truncated because I was denied a US visa at the American Embassy in Stockholm. The reasons are the same old jargons; I am single and have no ties bla- bla-bla rubbish.

I have no State Department to turn to, so I wrote a strongly worded letter to the American Embassy in Stockholm. I expressed my dismay about their shocking decision to ground a UNESCO student on the Scandinavian Island based on such flimsy excuses. If the US Embassy in Stockholm cares to know, they can check my update at the Swedish tax office-it still states clearly-S-I-N-G-L-E.

When I write about my wife in my essays, it’s for the sake of simplicity. No long thing. The US embassy and other embassies around the world should learn how to respect people’s marital statuses and separate that from the purpose of visa applications.

Apart from family ties and employment, one of the several silly reasons for denying Nigerians entry or travel visas is predicated on the overblown drama surrounding some mischievous Nigerians. The truth is that Nigerians who engaged in swindling, forgery and other sorts of misdemeanors are quite negligible compared to the total population of Nigerians.

In a more realistic comparison Nigerians are contributing to the economic development of several communities and countries around the world. Such contributions are not appreciated because the Western Press dominate the airwaves and chose what to propagate. But we are not deterred; we continue to help the world through our commitments and dedication.

It pains when honest and innocent Nigerians applying for visas are lump both as economic migrants and fraudulent minds simply because they sought visa to the US, the UK and other places. Every application should be treated on its own merits. There should be clear distinctions between the roles of the embassies in foreign countries and the immigration officers on home soil.

Mr. Campbell became a victim of what I have always argued about. There are rules for visa applications which have relegated the use of common sense and discretion. Almost all the embassies in the world continue to live by the rules and that is where Campbell’s application fell flat.

It is very easy to argue also that he was denied a visa to Nigeria because of his negative comments about Nigeria.

On discretion and common sense, Mr. Campbell, in his capacity as the former US envoy to Nigeria, would probably still have been granted a visa with 6 days’ notice instead of the prescribed seven days. Unfortunately rules remain the standard for all embassy staff and visa officers. They live by it.

I wrote a story here about the French embassy denying an entry visa to someone who has probably travelled around the world, is on his way to Switzerland and only needed a Schengen visa to get to Sweden to visit family members. The rule says he must go to the Swedish embassy.

There are scores of provoking responses to my blog post on this issue and sometimes I just needed to cool off and accept that people see things from different perspectives and it is going to be impossible to impose common sense and discretion on people’s minds. People will never come to see things the same way.

Every concerned person will live with his or her own frustrations on this matter.

But as long as Nigeria last, Nigerians must begin to tell their own stories. I have written a lot about my disappointments in the Nigerian government. It is a failed government that has given rooms for so many opportunities for the promotion of negativity including maltreatment of Nigerians in embassies in Nigeria. In the midst of rife corruption and collective citizenry nonchalance, the situation persists.

Even as I try to write about other things, it is very hard to ignore the states of things in Nigeria- the primary source of our collective embarrassment.

In all I have tried to stay clear of praise worshipping because I know the interpretations that come with such. But those whose jobs it is should start promoting the likes of Fashola of Lagos. The rest of us-while appreciating the work done and contributing our quota-should never fail to let them know that there is still more work to be done. The goals are to lift our standard of living and both the value and dignity of our lives on all fronts.

To close, Mr. Campbell must be feeling the same kind of disappointment that I felt 9 years ago. Sometimes you feel that you should get something because of who you are, but you don’t. That is life, you can’t have it all. By protesting the American Embassy in Nigeria and the US State Department is protecting and looking after one of its own. Those who rule Nigeria, while it last, need to start taking care of Nigerians. That care may be an antidote to Nigeria dancing on the brink by John Campbell

Terrorism in Nigeria May Lead to Disintegration

By Adeola Aderounmu

On December 26 2009 I wrote on my blog page that Nigerians are not terrorists. That statement is no longer valid.

Nigeria is now among the league of growing terrorist nations.

On Christmas day in 2009 one over-pampered kid Abdul Mudallab put Nigeria’s name on the global map. He is the famous underpants bomber.

One year later at the end of 2010 there has been series of blasts in Nigeria. From Abuja to Maiduguri to Jos and back to Abuja.

Terror now has its grip on the Nigerian nation.

At about 1730 Nigerian time on the last day of the year 2010 there was a deadly bomb in a busy area in Abuja. Thirty people may have lost their lives with several others injured.

As usual the Nigerian government is quick to point accusing fingers. The blame has been shifted to Boko Haram, a group whose mission is not really clear to the rest of us.

It is cheap and easy to blame Boko Haram because of their attack on the police and civilian populations in Northern parts of Nigeria. People have been killed in Jos in violence related to both religious and political conflicts.

There are insinuations that MEND could also be responsible for the Abuja attacks.

Nigerian security forces need to step up and try to stay ahead of these terrorists whether they are MEND or Boko Haram. Otherwise there will be no solution to the oncoming onslaught of violence and devastations that will hit the rest of the country.

The current pattern indicates a clear motive to disrupt the fragile peace in Nigeria. We know we have political problems and we are aware of the massive corruption and unimaginable social injustices in Nigeria: it is therefore easy for a group or groups with selfish ambitions to penetrate jobless extremists and use them to achieve a sort of destabilization that will usher in the final demise of Nigeria.

That in my opinion is the goal of consecutive bomb blasts and terror attacks. The aim will be to fulfil the predictions that Nigeria will disintegrate before 2015. I thought there are better approaches. When this country becomes ungovernable I look forward to negotiations that will usher in the separations of its parts. The consequences of war we are all familiar with. The Biafran experience should not be an option.

Whichever way, there are going to be many questions from now on. How did we get to this point in Nigeria? Are these attacks preventable? Are these attacks related to bad government and corruption across all the tiers of government in Nigeria? Are these attacks premeditated to make Nigerian ungovernable for a man from the Niger Delta?

There are multitudes of questions. There will not be simple answers. Even in the Scandinavian countries where it seems that the government is almost perfect terrorism is beginning to take firm roots.

The government of Nigeria is now finding itself in a dilemma. So many things and issues have been neglected since 1960 that it will be impossible for us to fathom the reasons for these attacks and the nature of things to come.

Just as recent as October 2010, we wasted over N20b celebrating a useless anniversary. We made the biggest cake in the history of man. There are over 100m Nigerians who are poor and impoverished. They have no hope and no option to a life of poverty. Yet we wasted so much money for nothing! Stupid people making useless decisions!

The Nigerian politicians continue to steal and loot across all levels. The presidency, the executive arm, the National Assembly, the state government and all places where politicians reign across Nigeria it has been stealing, looting and enrichments as usual.

Our legislators earn the most money in the world. We complained that they should review their salaries to what civil servants take home, all in vain.

In Nigeria there is no electricity. Where I live in Nigeria we have 4 generators and run 24-7 on them. There is no public power supply. We don’t have water from the government. Our roads are bad and we drive at average speed of 30km/ hr or less.

Public Schools are becoming historic. We pay high fees to keep our children in schools. Education is now a luxury. Foods are expensive, quality and standard of living are terrible and unacceptable!

Pensioners are suffering and people get laid off indiscriminately. NITEL staffs were dismissed without the benefits of continuous pensions. What a wicked government! So silly!

Nigerian politicians keep their families abroad while they suffer us at home.

When you add all of these woes together you get a failed country. Nigeria is a failed country. Therefore it appears as a golden opportunity for those who believe in violence. It doesn’t even matter if the stimulating or sponsoring agents are within or outside Nigeria. The fact is that they have found cracks in the wall and it is therefore too easy to penetrate and destabilize the country and the government.

The government of Nigeria will be at a dilemma and crossroad for sometime to come. How do you begin to know the elements or characters that are so angry they only resolved to kill innocent people? The Nigerian politicians have a way to protect themselves and their families. The victims of the attacks in Jos, Maiduguri and Abuja are people or individuals like me. We have no means to protect ourselves and the security provided by the Nigerian government is almost non-existence. Usually troops lined the streets after the evil has been done. Sometimes this fans the violence and lead to more deaths.

Who will save our souls? Evil is on the rise. The government has failed the people. For fifty years, public servants and politicians stole and stole. They are still in Nigeria. Nothing has been done to them. They ruined our lives. They stole our future and they took our hopes away. Until this day the story is the same.

The new found love of terrorism in Nigeria is an additional plague that we will now have to live with. It has taken 50 years to destroy this country. It will take more than 100 years to fix it.

Nevertheless we must start to build this country now. This is a country with vast potentials. The task of reclaiming the glory of Nigeria is before all of us. It should not really matter who becomes the president if we established a sound foundation for our democracy. What matters is that the likes of Atiku, IBB and even Jonathan should be sent to face trials for the mis-governance they have participated in. I see no hope in the present crop of looters and thieves that are in Aso Rock then and now.

If Nigerians think that they have democracy now, they really need to wake up from that nightmare. Democratic structures run on institutions and not individuals. Democracy runs on the rule of law which no one is above. In Nigeria, several people are above the laws of the land. This has made it possible for impunity to reign supreme. Our political parties are so useless they have no clear cut goals and objectives. Their dream is to capture power and loot the treasuries nationwide.

We really need to sit down in this country and think. We can’t afford to get it wrong this time.

The first ingredient for our future attempt at progress and development will be to find a genuine democratic process.

When we do, we must begin to address the issues relating to the rule of law and the promotion of social justice and state welfare. There is a need to form political parties based on ideology and good governance. We need to promote literate participation with the attempt to eliminate thuggery and insanity from our politics.

The people must know that they have government and governance that works.

The Judiciary must be independent and have the possibility to work with the police to wipe corruption once and for all.

Nigerians must start to probe the sources of wealth. People are stealing in government and private businesses. The nation is sinking because of the actions of a few men and women.

We must rebuild all public institutions, not physically but mentally. Nigeria must now tap deep into the cognitivity of its intellectuals with a view to promoting merit over national character. There is an urgent need to revive nationalistic movements that will carry everyone along. A massive re-orientation along the line of nation building is urgent. The goal will be to save this sinking nation.

The other option is to allow it to continue with the status quo and pretend that all is well while the nation sinks. Such pretentions will allow terrorism to take a firm root and grip on Nigeria. One day a new group will declare once and for all “to your tent O’ Isreal!”

At that point, the prediction of the disintegration of Nigeria would come to pass. Our lives are in our hands.

How to Kill a Pensioner in Nigeria

By Adeola Aderounmu.

I will not be surprised if the problems in Nigeria are worsened by the curses of pensioners, especially those that have died without successfully getting their complete or befitting gratuity and entitlements. How can we redeem ourselves from these kinds of curses?

Post and Telecommunications (P&T) and the Nigerian Railways are two examples of government institutions that really used people and dump them later in life. There are other institutions where men and women gave their time, energy and abilities to keep the nation working. Many of these people gave 35 years of their lives. They stole nothing. They didn’t display disloyalty to the government. They obeyed their superiors. They are men and women of honour in the service to the nation. They kept fate with the system. The system simply turned around and offered them stones. Many of these men and woman waited in vain for bread. It never came. Some died like lepers.

Isn’t it appalling to carry out endless verification exercise on a man who served his country for 35 years? Isn’t it injustice and betrayal of the highest order to hold back this man’s gratuity and pension? Isn’t it also amazing that the face of public service has changed for the worse? Tell me, who wants to die on a queue waiting for his/her pension? Workers of nowadays (including you and I) do not have the excellent occupational traits that our fathers and mothers displayed.

Stealing and distrust in governance has rapidly permeated every sector of the Nigerian life. What we find nowadays are successful public servants. Even junior officers have discovered how to build houses and marry more than one wife. Since it is useless to depend on the government for affordable mortgage houses or provisions for their future, these men and women found the short cuts. Only a few honest people are left in public and private services in Nigeria.

Unfortunately, the efforts of the evil people have completely overshadowed the diligence of the honest ones among us. The results are staring at us in the face. The failure of governance, the insincerity of the pensions board (does it exist?), the self enrichment of the politicians and the melancholy tales of our pensioners (like Baba P&T) are parts of the reasons people have taken desperate measures to salvage their future. It is a sad situation.

It will take more than a miracle to wipe corruption away from government, places of public services and private enterprises. It will be a collective effort on the parts of all and sundry. It is not a job for the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) only. It is something we must all work for and try to achieve. It will take time but it is not an impossible task.

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This article is an exerpt from the original: This Pensioner Must Die..! published here On July 24 2007. I have re-posted it because of the incident that happened in Abuja recently and reported by the Guardian Newspaper of 11th November 2008.

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Guardian Report Nov 11 2008.

The plight of pensioners

THE sorry plight of Nigerian pensioners again came to the fore recently when a senior citizen who had worked with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) died on his way to Abuja to receive his pension. Elder Citizen Michael Igiebor Okhokpa had been ill and so could not present himself at the Pensions Office in Abuja from his base in Benin, Edo State. His son whom he had sent with a letter of authority to receive the money on his behalf, was ignored by the officials in charge. He had to return to Benin to fetch his aged and sick father.

Sadly, the old man gave up the ghost on the way, in Kubwa, inside the vehicle conveying him to Abuja. In frustration, the son took his father’s corpse to the paying officers. There was pandemonium when they arrived, as angry onlookers including other pensioners nearly caused a riot. The hitherto recalcitrant officials promptly paid the dead man’s pension. Certainly, this is unbecoming of state officials. It shows how callous and insensitive the Nigerian system can oftentimes be.

Getting gratuity and pensions in Nigeria has become a nightmare for senior citizens. Often these men and women who spent their youth serving the country are compelled to make long journeys to Lagos or Abuja, or state headquarters for some officials to ascertain their continued existence. In some cases, the pensioners, where they enjoy good health, do not even have enough funds to make the trip.

In other cases, they simply arrive at the city centre, build a tent and remain there sometimes for months on end while the verification exercise lasts. The example of discharged soldiers who spent months in Lagos and Abuja some two odd years ago waiting for their entitlements, is still fresh in public memory. An attempt was finally made to pay the pensions only after the angry retired soldiers almost rebelled against the Army.

In the past, retirees were paid in their home states at zonal offices across the country. But civil servants colluding with some retirees soon began to defraud the system. Names of retirees who had long died were retained on the payment vouchers. The truth is that in the civil service, at both Federal and State levels, retirees sometimes wait for four to five years before they get their gratuity.

Some ministries are particularly notorious; they seem to derive pleasure from the helplessness of retirees. Proper records are not kept. Unscrupulous officials demand different documents from bewildered retirees. It is perhaps because of this experience that the Federal Government decided that all payments should be made centrally. The Obasanjo government also reformed the national pensions scheme, to make it private sector-driven, with the emergence of Pension Fund Administrators. It is hoped that in the long run, this will eliminate the current inefficiency seen in the payment of backlog of pensions in the public sector.

Retirement is a period workers should look forward to with hope and pleasure. After many years of hard labour, a worker is entitled to some peace and security in his old age. It is for this reason that many people once considered a career in the civil service safe and secure. But not anymore. In contemporary Nigeria, the life of an average pensioner is now insecure and generally, senior citizens are treated shabbily. Help does not come from the State either, and the future is uncertain. Not surprisingly, workers are compelled to protect themselves against future uncertainties by resorting to all kinds of sharp practices while still in active employment. Apart from changing their dates of birth at will, in order to prolong their service period, many deliberately engage in corrupt practices.

The pensions payments system, with regard to retired civil servants who are not covered by the new system introduced by the Obasanjo administration, must be reviewed. Humiliating and maltreating persons who had spent a better part of their lives serving the country is unacceptable. It is curious that the usually discourteous and mean pensions payment officers, who insist on humiliating pensioners, hardly realise that they would also end up as pensioners some day.

Except pensioners receive fair and prompt treatment, the country will unwittingly strengthen the temptation of civil servants to be corrupt. Any society that cannot treat its elderly citizens with care and respect advertises its disregard for values. Retirees should be paid their entitlements without any stress. Michael Okhokpa didn’t deserve to die trying to get his pension

Are Nigeria and Abuja two great mistakes?

Are Nigeria and Abuja two great mistakes?

By Adeola Aderounmu.

For a while now, I have been wondering if Nigeria was/is a mistake. Maybe four or more countries would have been viable and prosperous instead of the one nation (Nigeria) populated by more than 90 million extremely poor people.

Indeed in the absence of corruption and very bad governance maybe Nigeria would have become the greatest country on earth. We will never know. What we know is that there are people in Nigeria whose 14th generation from now will not experience poverty because some members of their families have looted and are still looting and preparing for them-the unborn.

In the same set up called Nigeria, for example in the Niger Delta we have people who are living on less than 1 dollar a day. As these people continue to suffer, treasures and wealth are taken away from them daily and part of this wealth was used to build a new city called Abuja.

Instead of building a new capital called Abuja the right thing would have been the building of the Niger Delta. If mumu and idiots like Babangida have built the Niger Delta, we would have no militants today. There will be no MEND. There would not have been any kidnapping in the Delta and Ken Saro Wiwa would not have died.

So the questions remain: Would the people in my area of West Africa have been better off today if the vagabond Briton called Lugard did not establish NIGER AREA (Nigeria)? If the successive evil governments of Nigeria did not introduce poverty as a way of life, would MEND and other criminal militants be waging war against Nigeria today?