ne of our readers succinctly stated "With your awareness of the problems in Nigeria and the role, the leaders play, why not formulate and initiate a workable solution for change, even a small one." In other words, he wanted to know what needs to be done to make the Nigerian leaders responsive to their citizens' needs, since most Nigerians complain so much about their leaders. Surprisingly, this reader is failing to realize that the reform has to start with an average Nigerian in making their governments responsible, responsive, reliable, dependable, defensible, most especially it should start with Nigerians that reside outside the country.
Since those residing within the country have been contagiously immune to the government inactions or actions, POLICIES, to the needs of the society, those that have gained some experiences and still experiencing some high standards across the world in addressing the societal needs and challenges, should be able to come up with some solutions and suggestions as to the direction the governments should go.
Some Nigerians have resolved that there is no need of whooping the dead horse, some Nigerian Leaders, as it does not have any effect on them. On the other hand, whooping the dead horse, let out some frustrations, and would possibly create enough space 'upstairs' for fresh thoughts after the exercise.
Perhaps the act of making the home governments responsible could start with the Nigerian Foreign Missions located across the Universe. In essence, government works at the direction of its citizens.
Following the challenge from one of our readers, we should start realizing that the solution lies with individual citizens for a complete change of MIND-SET. It is very interesting that those residing abroad thought it wise to create discussion groups about issues in Nigeria. Unfortunately and mindboggling that most of the Internet Groups have turned into the venue where most of the discussants expose their ignorance resulting in eccentric abuses, designating an issue into ethnic issues, personal abuses, black-mailing, and distrust, revealing what have been confided in one another.
It is unfortunate to find the enlightened men of the academic echelon resolve into using offensive words to intimidate their receivers, as if they were at the joints, drinking burukutu, and kain-kain. If the privileged Nigerians who have added their experiences by mere residing outside the country into the issues in Nigeria; things could have been better off and the leaders might have had a change of mind-set. Some Nigerian leaders are very quick to say, 'we know what you people are doing abroad'.
NIDO was set up to make contributions to Nigeria development and growth. Its first set of leader's quest was getting contracts from the home government. Today, January 2013, hardly could anyone identify NIDOA main focus. What has been its outcome?
It is not only an individual or advocates that can do it; it is every single Nigerians, families, and organizations, both social and religious, and especially educational institutions that would make things work in Nigeria.
Some Nigerians would complain that the Nigerian foreign missions are not helping Nigerians residing abroad: MINDSET. The Missions are what Nigerians Abroad made them to be. They may not be as bad as most Nigerians residing abroad are painting them, if and when we objectively share our gained experiences in residing abroad with them. The Missions are the Nigerian Governments, at the tip of our nose, where we can make some difference. Nigerians must realize that they have major roles to play in re-shaping their leaders as we continue to blame them for their inhuman treatment of Nigerians.
The Middle East countries learnt in very hard ways, before they realized that whatever is available in their respective countries, even though their religion blocked them from blaming them; belong to everyone, not a family. It is a privilege for some families to manage their countries' resources for the entire country.
Unfortunately, the Boko Haram group reflexively refused to make their grievances known to the government as most of the Northern leaders have misled and blinded their people for too long. Boko Haram was not actually against Western Education, but against their leaders that REFUSED to make the North the pride of the region when they had the ample opportunities during the Military era, when no one dare challenge them for their programs. However, their leaders' focus was in enriching themselves at the expense of the monsters they created. They are reaping the seed of discord their leaders sown.
Nigeria foreign missions are meant to represent the country in all ramifications. Nigerians residing abroad are SUPPOSED to drop their Nigerian mentality and tailored their actions and reactions to the norms of the respective countries they reside. As we observed, most Nigerians abroad obey the laws and regulations of whichever community they found themselves; unlike in Nigeria where jungle justice has ensued, based on the fact that offenders do not get adequate judgement in the Nigerian law courts. In most cases, they are set free, after compromising with the law enforcement agents in Nigeria. These are things they could not do in the foreign land where they reside.
As soon as an Ambassador or Consul is posted to any of these Missions, the first attempt by some Nigerian Community leaders is what they could benefit from their presence instead of finding ways to work with them to succeed in their Mission. They will be looking for contracts, either as their insurance agent, real estate agent, Attorney, among others. Basically, nothing is wrong with that. Unfortunately, some of them are not too honest while dealing with the Foreign Missions in their quest to make them productive. At the end, they made some serious enemies of their fellow innocent Nigerians posted to represent the government, when things go sour.
Possibly, I can authoritatively talk about how Nigerian community in Atlanta work with the Nigerian Consulate Office in Atlanta Georgia on its second coming which began in 1998, while the Atlanta community worked with the Mission for its successes. After some Nigerian leaders in Atlanta, under the auspices of Emeritus Professor Augustine Esogbue, Ph.D. Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, at the Georgia Institute of Technology encouraged General Abdulsalam administration to re-open the Consulate Office in Atlanta in 1998.
The first taste of Atlanta Consulate office was in 1981 with Honorable Moses Ihonde, as Consul General, with Femi Aje as the pioneering staff of the office. Hon. Mohammed Abubakar succeeded Ihonde and remained the Consul from 1985 till 1989 when Babangida put a dagger on the Atlanta Consulate office.
It was re-opened again in 1998 with late Ambassador Olisa Emeka, as the Consul General at a small office; we popularly referred to as Pent House, to usher-in a new Mission in the South. Olisa Emeka mobilized Nigerian leaders in Atlanta and was warmly received with the focus in making the office relevant in the community. May his gentle soul rest perfectly in the Lord! Amen!
Ambassador Dr. Martin Uhomoibhi took over and the strong politics involved in the Nigeria civil service cut short Ambassador Uhomoibhi stay in Atlanta, just for six months. In his short stay, Ambassador Uhomoibhi laid the solid foundation of community grassroots mobilization of Nigerians residing in the South Region, Atlanta. He championed the establishment of Nigerian Youth Alliance, under the auspices of Mfon Ufat. In addition he laid the foundation for the celebration of Nigeria Independence; by organizing a week-long activities that heralded Nigeria presence in the metro Atlanta; through arts exhibition, lectures on Nigeria, meeting who is who in the State of Georgia, and the cocktail reception. Dr. Martins Uhomoibhi could be referred to as the Father of Nigerian Youth Alliance, Atlanta, Georgia. Visit its site at www.nigeriya.org.
The good leadership of Nigerian community in Atlanta prevailed in welcoming his successor, Ambassador Joe Keshi to the community. With the soft landing given to him, he aggressively reached out to the community leaders which made his tenure very productive. Ambassador Joe Keshi brought Nigerians Abroad under an umbrella organization, NIDOA. Subsequently an umbrella Association for Nigerian Associations in the State of Georgia was formed. After three years of wallowing, the Alliance of Nigerian Associations in Georgia, ANOG, came to life under its first President, Dr. Ezekiel Macham. www.anogusa.org.
His tenure also witnessed the birth of all female Nigerian Organization, the formidable Nigeria Women of Atlanta Georgia, NWAG, under his wife, Dayo Keshi, who happens to share the same birthday with my Darling Wife, Julie Aladuke Abosede Ajayi, July 11th. I might refer to Ambassador Keshi as a 'smooth operator', real political administrative diplomat. www.nwag.org.
We credit the Nigeria Consulate Office, Atlanta, for these three formidable, non-ethnic, non-religious, non-sectional Nigerian Associations Organizations in the State of Georgia, the Nigerian Youth Alliance, the Nigerian Women Association of Georgia, and the Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in Georgia.
Joe Keshi was succeeded by a very quiet, peace loving Diplomat of excellence, Ambassador Victor Bosah, who unfortunately lost a son during his service in Atlanta and his wife thereafter. He was the only Consul General among those that I witnessed, and worked with; who travelled by road from Atlanta to Louisiana during the devastating Katrina that almost buried New Orleans. He visited places that were motorable to commensurate with the citizens of Louisiana, and most especially Nigerians that resided in the State. It was a remarkable accomplishment how he worked with the leaders and Nigerians in the region to get his job done.
Finally, the youthfulness of Ambassador Chudi Okarfor sealed the final arrival of the Nigerian Communities in the region. Consul Chudi Okafor built upon his predecessors' foundation for how government should work with the community. The man speaks dynamically, sensitively, powerfully with imbedded wisdom. He effectively consolidated what his predecessors have done especially with the Nigerian communities to the pride of Nigerians. He is now (2003) the Nigerian Ambassador in Philippines.
Atlanta Consulate Office is now under newly posted Ambassador Tenabile as the new Consul General in Atlanta. The man should have been an Ambassador with his current title as Ambassador. That could be part of the Nigeria politics. At my last visit in January 2013, things have basically improved in terms of the structure, the staff, friendlier, courteous, and orderly as they attended to customers as they arrived.
From the foregoing, we could note that the Nigerian communities actually patterned the relationships and working conditions of the Atlanta Consulate Office with Nigerians and their host communities.
In essence, the point I am making is that Nigerians must rise up to the task as to the direction they want their government to go.
I read some interesting piece on the net, written by Paul Omoruyi on how Nigerians residing abroad should stop offering bribes to the 'Professional Beggars' at the point of entry and departure in Nigeria; the Immigration, Custom, NDLEA Officials. He advised that Nigerian travellers should follow the guidelines not carrying more than what the law permits to deflate their appetite to extort them. Only Nigerians can stop the menaces of the Nigerian Officials, the social ills incorporated into the Nigerian public service.
At the departure from Murtala International Airport Lagos, December 2012, a shameless Immigration officer asked what I would give him since he had to stamp my passport before leaving the country. He made it sound that I have to pay him before he stamps my International Passport. I looked at his five-month old pregnancy, potbelly, as if to spit on his face and punch his potbelly to spit out all the money he has extorted from the travellers. After gazing at each other for a while and his interrogation, he stamped my passport.
The issue of giving bribe has been imbedded in the veins of an average Nigerian public servant. Even if the person rendering the service is not asking, there is the tendency to offer it. There is nothing wrong for you to say thank you for doing a good job, it should not be like a fugitive to offer you something before you stamp the Passport.
Consequently, shabby treatment of Nigerians in the foreign offices could be blamed on Nigerians.
While visiting the consulate Atlanta in January 2013, the person working at the counter was explaining the process of obtaining a new passport to a Nun. She was not satisfied as she wanted to go by the old process. The person in charge came out from the office and showed her the procedure posted on the notice board by the window. On the average, you have to be patient to work with an average Nigerian. Ironically, they do not act like that if they visit any American office.
What Nigerians residing abroad would not do to their host communities, while in their offices, would be relayed on the Nigerian Consulate officials even knowing fully well, what they need to do to get their services? The person at the counter could be labelled as being rude, when after each explanation; the question from a Nigerian has not changed from the first statement contrary to the Consulate office policy on Passport renewal.
In the Atlanta Consulate office, then, we had some 'black sheep' of the office that wanted to frustrate the services being rendered by the Consulate. There was a particular local staff that was rude, disrespectful, stubborn, call any name you would need to describe an average civil servant in Nigeria. Nigerian communities worked with the consulate office to change the attitude of such individual.
I am not totally exonerating the Nigerian Staff mission in discharging their responsibilities as it was discussed on the social media network, how Honorable Consul General patiently stated that he hates Christians.
The time is here for Nigerians Abroad to start the reform wherever they reside to positively work with their leaders to do what is right. What is that they are looking for outside Nigeria that they cannot find the solutions in the country with Nigerians? There are answers in Nigeria, among Nigerians residing abroad to help the home government.
A Nigerian Foreign Minister of State, scheduled for a Town Hall meeting in New York, January 18, 2012, arrived at the venue 90 minutes behind schedule. Some decent Nigerians gave him the embarrassment of his life in New York. Watch this 11:06 minutes clips as something like that must start happening to put them on check as to their responsibilities to Nigeria.
Any host country should support Nigerians in dishonoring some of these government officials that have tarnished the country's image across the world. Nigerians both the leaders and the led have roles to; play to achieve the desired goal towards giving Nigeria positive image.
Every single Nigerian has some roles to play in making their governments more responsible and sensitive to peoples' needs. Citizens are responsible for the behavior of their leaders since they voted them into their respective offices.
Femi Ajayi is a Professor of Policy, Management & Conflict Resolution; Head, Political Science and Public Administration Department, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State