By Bilesanmi Olalekan
Until last week, she didn’t know she was not a Nigerian, at least that was what Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) told her. Matthew Daniel is a popular Lagos name. One of the daughters of the Lagosian, Laila,60, was denied passport last week at Ikoyi, Lagos office of the NIS on the grounds that she is not a Nigerian. Laila is founder of ACTS GENERATION, a non governmental organization, NGO, on domestic violence and abuse.
According to her, she had gone to the immigration office to renew her passport. Having scaled through all the necessary procedures, she was asked to pick up the passport this Tuesday, 12th of March but she was called back on Wednesday as the ‘PCO would want to make some clarifications’.
“On getting there, the PCO, one Modupe, asked me if I was a Nigerian. I told her yes. She said it is not true that I must have been married to a Nigerian.
When I insisted that I am Nigerian as my late mother was Nigerian, my father may not be but more than that, I was born, schooled here, she said I must provide my late mother’s data to prove she was actually a Nigerian. I felt that was an embarrassment as she was talking to me in the presence of people. Is it now at the age of 60 that somebody will be telling me I am no longer Nigerian?. It is traumatizing.
She said my name Laila Osman is not Nigerian . I am not sure she is competent to be on the seat otherwise she would have known the beautiful melting point that Nigeria is. There is mix marriages, different colours. And she would have known that the name Osman or Laila can be found in the north. My colour and hair type can be found in the north within the Fulanis. I could pass for a Fulani if I could speak Hausa. How come she does not know that?.
In the River-rine areas, there are quite a number of people like me by virtue of the fact that it is a coastal town.