By Donu Kogbara
Last week, I expressed reservations about President Jonathan’s overall performance to date…but praised him wholeheartedly for courageously declaring a state of emergency in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states.
I also complained about the fact that the American Embassy in Abuja recently rejected my assistant Mavis’s visa application…on the grounds that she (allegedly) doesn’t have sufficiently strong ties outside the United States (the implication being that she cannot be trusted to go home when the visa expires).
Knowing that Mavis is not the kind of person who would dream of violating the terms of any agreement – and has no interest in becoming a fugitive and disappearing into the black economy of some American city to do menial work clandestinely – I continue to insist that she was treated unfairly…especially since she went to her embassy appointment with very strong supporting documents (which the official who interviewed her did not feel like reading).
The American visa-awarding system is too whimsical and arbitrary, if you ask me. But I always try to be objective and can, on reflection, see why so many foreign diplomats view so many Nigerian visa applicants with intense suspicion.
The truth is that too many Nigerians, including some who look and sound very respectable, enter other countries with tourist visas and then stay on illegally.
Our government should take note of the fact that this kind of misbehaviour, which tarnishes Nigeria’s image internationally, would occur much less often if this was a better place to live in. People generally only run away and take risks in alien territories on the other side of the world when they are desperate.
When graduates yearn to clean toilets in Europe or to stack shelves in dingy American supermarkets, something is VERY wrong with their home turfs.
Anyway, here are some of the comments that Vanguard readers sent me about the above issues.
+234807137310 Ekenwan Akwagbe
Dear Donu, l appreciate your concerns about President Jonathan’s style of leadership. It shows your genuine desire to have his name written in gold. Those who have criticized him for declaring a state of emergency are hypocrites. Most Nigerians hailed the emergency declarations but political merchants like Tinubu and his cohorts see nothing good. They are desperate for political power for selfish reasons and not because the PDP or Jonathan is not doing well.
+2348023102847 Mrs L Finnih
I have always known that Jonathan will act at the appropriate time. Those who are opposing him will all fail. The state of emergency declaration is the beginning of good things to come by God’s grace.
+2347012643915 Tayo Tola Agbaje
Without any fear of contradiction, l make bold to say that Jonathan is the worst President in the history of this country and that, come 2015, we will vote Jonathan out and nothing will happen.
Don’t mind the Americans. Their assumption is that the average Nigerian is a gold-digger and may never return if issued visa. A very wrong perception.
From Funmi (she asked me to withhold her number)
I work for a multinational in Nigeria and have travelled extensively abroad but the Americans have denied me a visa more than once, giving the “not enough ties” excuse. I wonder why they think I would leave my good job to go and do lesser jobs in their so-called Gods Own Country! However, l put the blame squarely on the Nigerian government that allows her citizens to be treated like lepers in their own country and to be milked via non-refundable visa fees.
The American guy who interviewed and disappointed Mavis most likely woke up on the wrong side of his bed that day!
Give him a national honour!
Mr Obafaiye Shem attracted widespread ridicule earlier on this year because he couldn’t answer a simple question about his organisation’s website during a TV interview and said that his boss – “My Oga At The Top” – would know the answer.
Rumour has it that he was recently relieved of his job as a Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Commandant for making a fool of himself. And I can see why he was removed from such a high-profile post, but I think that he deserves a consolation prize because he has had a HUGE cultural impact.
Everywhere I go, I hear people saying (seriously or humourously) “Oga At The Top” or “Madame At The Top” when they are referring to people – parents, spouses, employers, politicians – in different leadership positions.
The reason these words have become so popular is that they are so perfect a way of describing those who are perched on various pinnacles. And Shem should definitely be honoured for adding a colourful new phrase to the nation’s lexicon.