The Nigerian Community in South Africa is calling on, His Excellency, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibajo (SAN), The Honorable Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, the Honorable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the Chairperson Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Honorable Abike Dabiri, and the Comptroller General of Immigration Services, Mr. Muhammed Babandede to call to order the Consul General of Nigeria to South Africa, Mr. Malik M. Ahmed Abdul. He should stop the extortion of innocent, struggling, and helpless Nigerians in South Africa.
Don’t embarrass the government is a commonly used phrase by Nigerian government officials when Nigerians stand up for their rights through peaceful protest. Please, do not leave us with no other choice than to mobilize the people in large numbers for protest. We have done it in the past, we can do it, and we will do it again if need be.
The Consul General Mr. Malik M. Ahmed Abdul is insensitive to the realities of economic hardship on Nigerians in South Africa at this present time of Covid-19. While the government of other countries is supporting their citizens, the Nigerian Consul General has imposed a compulsory illegal fee of R120 (N4,200) on all passport applications and R2,000 (N70,000) on all lost or damaged passports. These fees are outside of governments approved fees.
Loss or damage passports is not a crime. The Federal Government, through the Nigeria Immigration Services, has not imposed additional charges on lost passports. The government has listed appropriate procedures to follow and fees to pay for lost passports on the immigration website. Renewal of passport in South Africa has become a case of the highest bidder gets his passport. The process is unimaginable and corrupt.
The Consul General, Mr. Malik M. Ahmed Abdul, officially has endorsed and empowered agents to further enhance his extortion empire by requesting a non-refundable bond of R10,000 (N350,000) from agents.
In return for the non-refundable bond of R10,000, agents will further impose additional fees on struggling Nigerians who find it difficult to survive in this trying period of no jobs and economic hardship.
Honorable Consul General, we are aware of your security intelligence background as a security agent and the antics of divide and rule usually used to divide the people. A situation where you embrace some associations and individuals and pitch them against each other. Your use of force to suppress people’s voices, and those who stand against the corrupt system, will not work. We advise you to unite the community rather than divide us.
We have full knowledge of the security tactics you and other diplomats use to crush those who oppose or challenge unjustifiable policies you impose on the people. We are aware that you send names to security agents in Nigeria, and you identify those who are bold enough to oppose you as an enemy of the state, drug dealers, or as a secessionist in other to justify your stand. We are non of the above. We are citizens standing up against the extortion of helpless people in your hands.
Be reminded that one of the reasons for your posting to South Africa is to serve and unite the community, not to divide it. You are a father figure in a diplomatic position, and we expect you to act as such. The use of force, divide and rule strategy will not silence or threaten us. Stop the extortion, and unite the community.
We appreciate the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria’s professionalism, services, and sensitivity to the plight of Nigerians. We are aware of the joint meeting between the former Acting High Commissioner Mr. Adamu Bako with the Consul General and his team, where the Consul General proposed additional fees on passports. The Acting High Commissioner opposed it, saying it is not a government directive.
To fellow Nigerians in South Africa who continue to fall for the divide and rule antics because of crumbs, we know you. We have accepted the reality that, in every community, there must be a Judas. But, remember, Consul Generals go and come, but we remain here in South Africa, as South Africa has become a home.
We have witnessed many Consul-Generals come and go. We know the impacts they have left individually on the community, good or bad. The record is there for everyone to see. Time is a determining factor that will define your legacy as the Consul General of Nigeria to South Africa, and we will write about your tenure. Be compassionate about the sufferings of the people rather than extorting them.
This article was previously published on The Nigerian Voice