About 500 loss passports were reported in eight months – Consul-General

The meeting started at 10 am with an opening prayer by Bishop Ranti Famodun of the Nigerian Pastor association of South Africa and an Islamic cleric. The national anthem followed. The moderator, Apostle Ugwu was introduced by the PRO to the Consul General Mrs. Kalunta while other associations that gave submission during question and Answers are Niger Delta Union and ANNID.

Moderator welcomes everyone to the important press Conference. The first speaker to that set ball rolling was Dr. Olusola Agbeniyi, President Association of the Yorubas in Diaspora South Africa.  He encouraged the participants not to play politics in their submissions. According to him, there are no political parties in Diaspora but associations of Diasporans. He cited the recent occurrence of protest as a reason for this discussion so that the truth is established and address accordingly. He said Nigerians in South Africa are interested to know about R120  and R2000 lost passports charges. He however condemned the act of blackmail against the individual staff of the consulate.  

The Consul General only assume office a few months ago. How comes he has just become an extortionist. According to him, in as much as protest is a demonstration human right, and while we expressive our vies over what we perceived not to be good services by the consulate, blackmail is a criminal offense which should not be permitted. He also said the situation in  Nigeria is a spillover of many happenings in the consulate and the organizations can even come together to assist the consulate to ensure effective consular services and engage them constructively when the needs arise. He said there are some countries with no consulates and South Africa should not be one of those nations if hostility continues.

Next to speak was the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, South Africa. The clergyman was disappointed in the current stage of protest against the consulate. According to him, our Nation is in a state of crisis and here we are discussing protests by some people against the consulate and passport issues.
According to him, people in Nigeria need us to contribute to the development at home. He encouraged Nigerians to be united and work in unity with the consulate general.
 In the Submission of Northern Nigeria in Southern Africa, the association give total support to the reform currently going on in the consulate by Hon Malik Ahmed Abdul and assured him the association continues to support.
The president Rev Alex Waniko says there is no a  Nigerian of Northern extraction from the list of the agents. This is a reflection that the CG is a credible man of a purpose to reform the consulate services in South Africa. The association condemned the acts of blackmail and character assassination against the Consul General. According to Waniko, it was not a surprise to them as they know that Nigerians are very complex to deal with. He however encouraged the CG not to relent his effort for the good services he is rendering to Nigerians.

NICASA President General, Prince Ben Okoli in his submission totally condemned naming calling by the protester on the Hon. Consul General. According to him, it is a fact that the charges of R120 were a directive from  Abuja and these people still went ahead and stage the demonstration. He gave total support to the Consul General and the good jobs he has been doing since he assumed office. He assures Nigerians that NICASA is up to the task in working with the consulate to ensure smooth and effective service delivery to the community.

Ohaneze Ndigbo President-General in his remarks distances the organization from the protest. According to him, Ndigbo constitutes about 80 percent of Nigerians in South Africa.   He pledged total support to the Consul General and the Consulate

Next was the keynote from the Consul General Hon. Malik Ahmed Abdul. The CG appreciates everyone that attended the media conference. He highlighted his reformed agenda in the last 6 months of assumption of duties. About 10,000, has been issued and about 400 passports are yet to claimed by the applicants. He also explained in detail with publication evidence, the service charges. On the issue of the R2000 loss passport charge, he gave a detailed explanation for it. According to him,  about 500 loss passports were reported within few months, and this raised suspicion of foul play. Hence this penalty charges to caution such a suspected criminal attitude by few Nigerians.

On the agents, he examined the necessities to cater for some categories of Nigerians who are illiterates and those who don’t have credit cards or get access to the internet.
He further explained that the bond of R10000 was a consensus between the agents and the consulate. It is to serve collateral in case any other engage in a dubious process of extortion money from an applicant or an agent does not deliver or absconded with applicant money. He showed the audience the Government account where the money goes to.
On NUSA,  he said NUSA is a disbanded group. He narrated their activities since formation in 2008. Previous letters to the ministry of foreign affairs in Abuja to assassinate the character of previous Consul Generals especially his predecessor Godwin Adama. and other negative activities such as a protest during the visit of President Buhari in 2019.
He said no responsible consulate will work with such an organization.

He said at a time  NUSA was the sole agent of passports issuance for Nigerians in South Africa and a lot of devices were recorded during these years.
On calling him an extortionist, he is considering legal action. However, he pledges to continue In his reform agenda so that Nigeria receives good services. CG also said if he is pushed, he may report NUSA to South African authorities for appropriate actions. One of the participants pleaded to the CG not to take legal action against NUSA

Next was a questions session From the media: Mr. Tunji Omotola ask about the Communication lapses between the consulate and the community. Mr. Niyi Abodedele asked if the CG indeed received a formal letter from Abuja on the charges.
Many other questions and submissions were made by other participants: Rep of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Nigeria women in South Africa encourage more women to join NWASA and also request for more of this type of meeting in future. The advice is also given from. Nigeria life matters, Akwa Ibom association, Nigeria Students in. In South Africa, Advice is given to the CG to discuss with the South African government on the issue of allowing Nigerians to be carrying a certified copy of their passport to prevent losses. Provision for emergency passport issuance for Nigeria health workers who may be in urgent need. Discussion on the recognition of children born by Nigerians with no permits.  There were also suggestions on how to further stop misrepresentation by NUSA.  Apart from advice, all the associations gave their support to the Consul General and Consulate General services.

The CG responded to all the questions and assured Nigerians that the consulate is up to the task. He also promised that some resolution will be made with the South African home affairs regarding the permit issues as raised. He however advised Mr. Abodedele to always be modest in his reporting citing his recent publication where he was one-sided.
The minister in charge of political and consular  Mr. Ezenwa Nwaobiala gave votes of thanks and promised more effectiveness in Consular services to Nigerians in South Africa

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