The Italian Consul General Mr. Andrea Pompermaier, has disclosed that one of the things topmost in his duties as the Consul General of Italy to the Federal Republic of Nigeria is offering both Nigerian visa applicants ‘and Italians resident and or doing various businesses in Nigeria, the best of consular services.
Pompermaier, who advised visa applicants to stay away from patronizing embassy touts, pointed out that it is wrong for applicants to believe that there is a shortcut to obtaining visa.
In this session with Victor Gotevbe and Vera Samuel Anyagafu, the Italian Consul General also discussed Nigeria-Italy bi-lateral relationships, culture, politics among other issues.
The most important task here is offering Italians and Nigerians the best of possible consular services. Although, sometimes we are unable to deliver the services in the way we would like, our cornerstone are transparency and integrity which are important to us.
In other words, we are really doing our best and are constantly seeking ways to improve the way we work and the way we interact with the people who need us.
I am delighted to state also that the Italian community in Nigeria is about one thousand in number, although smaller than the Nigerian community in Italy, it is very active and rooted in the Nigerian society, culture, etc.
The Italian community in Nigeria do not only rely on the services of the Consulate but also on the Italian International School of Lagos, “Erico Mattei” where the children can follow the Italian curriculum. Applying for a visa
It is imperative for applicants who are applying for various categories of visa to Italy to attentively read the instructions found on our website and secondly to stick to the rules. The worst thing they can do is to believe that there is a shortcut, or a hidden way. It is possible to bargain or believe that there are people who can help, but these are by far, the worst possible ways to approach us.
It has been very inspiring and interesting. Although this is my first time in Africa, I repent not coming earlier, and I must add that I really enjoyed the years spent in the other Italian Embassies in Europe and in Asia.
My last posting was Rome, where I worked in the European Union Department, but I am particularly delighted to be here in Nigeria and working with this wonderful people of Nigeria.
Major challenges at Consulate
The major problem for the Consulate General of Italy is to be able to efficiently deliver the required services. But this is not easy at all, considering the increasing interest of the Italian business in the Nigeria economy and if we also consider the growing number of Nigerians who want to visit Italy.
In addition, Italy is attracting millions of visitors from the entire world to the Milano Expo and we are working hard in that regard.
Consulates assistance to Italians, Nigerians
We have a good number of Italians in Nigeria, and it is difficult to quantify them.
Italy like Nigeria is a diversified country and the Italians request all kinds of assistance from the consulate, therefore our activities have basically no limit. I must tell you that this is also the fun side of our job because we are in touch with all possible issues. However, we are committed to ensuring that all consular services sort for by both Nigerians and Italians are met.
Stereotypes between Nigeria and Italy
Unfortunately, I often have the feeling that in both Countries there is the tendency to simplify the reality and to believe that Nigeria is just an African Country and Italy is just one of the European Countries. In reality both Countries have a unique cultural heritage and a unique way of life. By knowing each other we have a lot to learn.
Improving and promoting Italian language and culture in Nigeria
To this light, we are offering Italian courses and various Italian delicacies to interested Nigerians. This is so because we believe that culture must be accessible to everyone which is why these courses are done at no cost. We are also involved in intra-cultural activities and participants in our various programs are encouraging.
Suggestions to the Lagos state government
The Lagos State Government has experts in urbanization and city planning and they must be real experts to organize a town of the dimension of Lagos. But I believe many people would be happier if they could enjoy a larger number of green areas.
Staring a diplomatic career
This was my question to an Italian diplomat when I wanted to become an Italian diplomat corp. He gave me three advices, which are learn, learn and learn. To the students who want to start this career, I would give them the same three tips, but in a different order.