01emailThe difficulties of strict immigration policies meted out by several embassies is nothing new to Nigerian travelers, especially if your passport is very green and bearing the horses-and-eagle coat of arms. But lately, the South African embassy in Lagos – situated at Molade Okoya Thomas in Victoria Island, has taken things way too far. They have not only proved beyond any reasonable measure their deliberate attempt to violate immigration laws in relation to human rights, but have even claimed it is within the jurisdiction of their rights as a representative of a nation to inflict rules which in no way fulfill the services which they promised the citizens of their host nation. Rather, their services are conditioned to degenerate Nigerians to mere savages fighting amongst each other for the sake of the ‘almighty’ South African visa.

The scenario as it stands today at the embassy surpasses all attempts to translate it into words within the confines of writing. But since even the journalists who visit the embassies actually are more caught-up with traveling to South Africa than reporting that horrible experience, we have decided to give it a try.

On a typical work day, the embassy is supposed to resume at 9am. But even before then, the crowd of applicants are already building and converging at the entrance. The door, on most occasions, never opens before 10am. At this time, the two mobile police men must have arrived – rifle in hand. They ask everyone to quietly “respect yourselves” and move further away from the door of the entrance.

As the keys to the door begin to fumble around the key hole from the inside, the pushing begins already. Everyone wants to get in at the same time. It is in this attitude that the officials of the embassy get all their excuses for their despicable modus operandi. They say Nigerians are savages, “Give them an elbow, they will snatch the whole hand!” But the truth is that this embassy has no clue as to how to manage the influx of applicants per day, which is actually a very small number compared to, say the American or British embassy. They are massively understaffed and disorganized. As a result, the frustration is mostly suffered by the applicants.

By the time the door is opened, they beckon those for refund and repatriation deposits and afterward, they begin to call in applicants by categories. Usually, they do not stick to their procedure, so there is no point counting on whatever information you see on the notice board or their websites. By the time they have taken in the first batch, it is likely that a second batch will not be feasible. Those who never made it to the first batch could actually spend all day in the hot sun waiting to no avail. The most demeaning part of it is that no information is given on the next course of action, so everyone is just waiting out of faith without actually knowing what they are waiting for or if they should even be waiting at all.

05emailSo the big question is; in what place or law is it stated that any embassy has the right to keep [besides the able-bodied], pregnant mothers, old fathers, children and the physically challenged waiting for about seven hours in the sun just to be attended to? An applicant readily expressed it in picturesque words; “I was number one on the line after the first batch, from 12 noon until 6pm!” 6pm means he and the others behind him never made it into the embassy because they close at 4pm, and at times 5pm and the only sign of closure is when you see the tinted cars of the Consular driving away. No information. You just have to come back next time. What is the relationship between giving or rejecting a visa, and subjecting numerous people to countless hours of sun drying and unnecessarily strenuous waiting? And if there is never the possibility of all applicants being attended to, why won’t everyone scramble to make that fraction that enters first? Most of them struggling to beat the entrance have already exceeded their endurance peak because they have been to the embassy three or four times without having the opportunity of just submitting their application!

The popular manner of approach from the staff is that of rudeness, from the security personnel at the entrance to the Nigerian accountants responsible for acceptance of payment. They are explicitly saucy to a fault regardless of who is involved. They don’t talk to you; they bark at you. They treat you like you have come to beg, and most times some of them go to the length of trying to explain your constitutional rights to you, telling you how the South African visa is a privilege, therefore you should comport yourself and accept whatever condition dictated by the embassy and their workers. What an ironical misfortune!

Unlike most embassies, there is only one official attending to all the submissions of the day! And that official is one of the three consuls. So by mid-day, this person’s head is already rumbling with too many applications to attend to. The so-called agents [and there many of them] make matters worse: some people submit up to 30 passports in a row, therefore the screening process is always a long and tedious one. But why should there be just one person for such a tedious task? As a result of the mental commotion, this person in charge at some point, hardly looks at the application and with little or no reflection, just awards anything that comes nearest to his reflex: “failed interview”, “pay your visa fee” or “repatriation deposit”.

Talking of repatriation deposit, this is a fee amounting to a hundred and ten thousand naira which the applicant must pay before a visa is issued, and is refundable after the expiration date of the said visa. Based on the temperament of the consular, you might just be asked to pay this money or not, it really does not depend on if you deserve to or not. This money is to make sure you don’t disappear into some South African suburb – you will definitely come back as long as your money is with them. They underestimate Nigerians, as if they have forgotten that money is only a means to an end. But no – they didn’t forget, the money is making more money for them in their bank accounts.

After having paid the visa fee which is a non-refundable N8,600 and a ‘deposit’ of N110,000, you are asked to come back the next ten [10] days for your visa. Already, a ten-day interval for the treatment of visa is quite much compared to other embassies. On the visa day, the visa is not ready. You are not told what that means, no more information – just not ready. You keep coming back and the visa you already paid for is not ready. Some people kept coming for two months, and the visa was still not ready! Their traveling dates and flight tickets have been changed countless times, yet the visa was not ready. The cases vary. Some, when they finally receive the visa, find errors such as wrong dates, misspelt names, etc. In other cases, the visas would have been stamped into the passport a long time ago, but somehow the passport was never given to the owner and he kept coming back and modifying his travel arrangements. Other people have been told “not ready” about 6 consecutive times only to finally return their documents asking for “additional documents”.

So it becomes obvious that this embassy is not in any way concerned about fulfilling the services for which they are paid, instead they cause people more expenses by giving them a date for collection of visa – which will now prompt the applicant to purchase a ticket based on this information – only to be given his visa one month afterward or not given at all. Some people get fed up with the sight of the embassy and the unfriendly inhuman attitude of their staff and decide to withdraw their passport after they must have spent time and money. It is quite painful.

it is instructive to state here that collecting money from applicants and putting them through a series of emotional and financial turmoil and yet failing to render the services for which they are financially rewarded is criminal – grossly illegal. Indeed, this is not any different from the criminal act of swindling or defrauding.

They say Nigerians can withstand anything, can scale any hurdle, but that does not award a free pass to anyone, organization or government to erect unnecessary obstacles, even those that oppose the virtues of human rights. For not all Nigerians are the kind of Nigerians they have in mind while they build their high walls of senseless restrictions. Most Nigerians are good ambassadors not only to this nation, but to the entire black race – wherever they go and whoever they encounter, but ironically, they are the surest victims to these stereotypical notions about Nigeria. For the sake of those upright Nigerians, the South African embassy should set up a just method of evaluation instead of one that depends solely on the emotional whims and mood swings of the evaluating officials.

The South African embassy in Nigeria should update their staff and equipment; they have the resources because every applicant pays a non-refundable visa fee. No one disputes their right to refuse visas to anyone at their own free will, but they should desist from subjecting Nigerian citizens to treatments not even befitting to animal beings.

UPRISING therefore considers it a matter of justice to call critical attention of the Lagos State government towards scrutinising the mode of operation of the South African High Commission in Lagos and ensure that they modify any aspect of their services which makes it impossible for them to offer equitable services – free of all forms of torture – to their Nigerian clients. Otherwise they should consider the possibility of being asked to shut down!

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Just one month After the creation of the group UP-RISING on facebook, it has been a great experience through the support and backings we get, series of emails and traffic on the blog, we’re gradually becoming an household name synonymous to CHANGE, it made it clear to UP-RISING that Nigerians and the lovers of Nigeria embraces the truth, even though there are lots of antagonising foes trying to suppress that which is true or in accordance with mainstream fact and reality.

Here are quotes of the month dedicated to the month of February…

“I laughed and punched him gently and collected my stuff. Then I went home to continue my life, which had changed a little, as lives do every day, inching by micro specks forward toward whatever surprises are coming next.”

—UP-RISING.

NOTHING YOU DO CAN CHANGE THE PAST, BUT EVERYTHING YOU DO CHANGES THE FUTURE.

—ASHLEIGH BRILLIANT

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

—Richard Buckminster Fuller.

“The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.”

—Wole Soyinka

“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

— John M. Richardson, Jr.

“The rules have changed. True power is held by the person who possesses the largest bookshelf, not gun cabinet or wallet.”

—Anthony J. D’Angelo

“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there”

— Charles F. Kettering

“The art of progress is to preserve order amid change.”

— Alfred North Whitehead

“Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.”

— Denis Waitley

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

—Nelson Mandela

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

— Cesar Chavez

“Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth.”

— Wole Soyinka

Just remember all…that words are powerful, so very powerful, they archives for the future and change present attitudes (for the better or for the worse), with or without provocation. They can be triggers, reminders, movers, and emotive. SO ALWAYS SPEAK OUT WHEN YOU HAVE A POINT OF VIEW DIFFERENT FROM the existing state of affairs, regarding social or political issues. never mind of what difference it makes, cos you can’t measure change with your mind or eyes, it moves with the wind, cold or hot, wet or dry change is constant and all we do today determines what direction the wind takes, NOW THAT WE HAVE THE FUTURE IN OUR HANDS, TOGETHER LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO KEEP IT SAFE, just a ‘yes i agree” could be enough, if you don’t identify yourself with change now, something big could be taken away from you and destroy your future, and the future of your children’s children.

Together we shall RISE-UP.
http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=52242994494&ref=mf

© UP-RISING, February 2009
upnaija@gmail.com

https://uprisingblog.wordpress.com/

It wasn’t really curiosity that killed the cat; it was the car. Perhaps the cat got pretty excited chasing that fuzzy looking ball – which had captured its curiosity – across the road that it didn’t notice the car coming along in a hurried screeching pace. So the cat died, with the fuzzy looking ball now well out of its reach, but fortunately, in the hope of a happy ending, cats do have nine lives, but we on the other hand have got only one. And in the reality of a not-so-happy ending, in Nigeria we don’t even have lives to live. We survive; and now we have a fuzzy looking ball tapping along the horizon of time into a foggy destination, and it seems we have gotten our tails locked inside a cultural frenzy that keeps us hopping after the fuzzy looking ball, into a destination unknown.

We all know that in Nigeria, we don’t have the luxury of vehicles crushing us when we miss our way. Rather, what we have here are freight trains; the creeping line of military dictatorship, the busy line of corruption, the speeding line of human rights violation, the crowded line of poverty, to mention a few (we have been limited by corporate privacy laws of these booming businesses), all crushing generations and generations of great Nigerians, both known and unknown, from the past to the present and on they are on their merry way to the future. How interesting is it for our readers to observe that most of these trains have already arrived at the future and some of them have begun a return trip back to the present hoping to crush generations trying to rise from the ashes of the past. And what are we doing in anticipation of the inevitable recurrence of this looming catastrophe of daunting astronomical proportions? We are having a party!

Yes dear reader, in the midst of this dreadful quagmire, we are having a party. Perhaps we are taking the whole positive attitude thing a little too far. We celebrate a future of which we haven’t the slightest idea how it will truly be (well, intrinsically, many of us still believe we are headed for doom, but no negative thinking here). We celebrate a projection, an assumption of a future we have no blueprint for. And then we give awards to ‘successful’ individuals; most of whom have no idea or a plan on how Nigeria’s future should be. Sadly, in this country, we are yet to understand that although a man may have achieved material success, praise is only due when he effects positive changes into his environment and the nation as a whole. How much of his success has he diffused into the society he lives in and buys his success from? And by such, we do not mean “birthday-ly” visits to the orphanages with gifts, food and money (well video-taped into award winning documentaries and covered by media houses or blogged about on our international grapevine: Facebook). No! We mean a proactive alteration of the present in order to lay the foundation for a future that can hold promises. Having a successful business or living a materially successful life cannot and will not do that.

Thus, The Future Awards is a fanciful parade of dull vanities. At its best, it is yet a well celebrated excuse for another gathering for Rice and Stew Very Plenty (RSVP) – a well rehearsed performance that thrives on the recognition of wannabe celebrity cliques and young Nigerians who are obsessed with becoming the Visible-In-Public (VIP). What are we celebrating? Have we achieved so much in this present that the future is the only “thing” left worth celebrating? We are yet to begin true democracy; have a transparent government that is truly for the masses. We are yet to have in place a system that truly works thus deleting from our ambitions the hunt for greener pastures. Country citizens do not have the right to walk the roads without having their rights violated by the same authority that swore to protect them. We pay taxes for non-existent government services; we trade everyday in a corrupt, biased business environment and return home to food left over by the movers and shakers of the country. Yet here we are, celebrating a future and giving out awards to immortalize the folly. We truly are lost in our merry chase of the fuzzy looking ball.

And just as if to drive the whole mournful message home, The Future Awards parades an array of respected Nigerians like Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr. Reuben Abati et al – all in a frenzy to secure credibility for the awards. While we are not averse to such generous patronage by the older generation, we believe that more caution should be exercised in the way and manner today’s numerous youth ‘initia-thieves’ are endorsed. What we really need is a future, not a party about the future. We need to truly believe in ourselves as Nigerians, for those of us born in this generation never had the pleasure of being proudly Nigerian. Most of us may deny this observation, but it is true. Many of us never had that pleasure, neither the luxury nor the obligation of being proudly Nigerian. We speak with a foreign accent which is the confused mix of the brisk east American English, Queens English and Nigerian English accent. Many of us today claim to be proudly Nigerian, we shout it on media mountain tops, and we have turned the phrase “Proudly Nigerian” into a quality tag put on all products as if assuring standard manufacturing quality. But we all know that we are not. We all harbour the secret desire of migration and when we have free time, we all chase self-rewarding projects which is probably all the time. Nobody truly thinks of Nigeria as a future destination of peace and well-being. We have to change our present thinking and actions. Only those who become successful in doing that should be given awards, if at all we really need to party.

UP-RISING wants to see an award that will also celebrate a young Nigerian architect who presents a proposition on how unknown states should look like in the next ten years and then the award committee should take it up as a project using their influences to try bringing it into reality. We want to see an award that also includes young unrecognized doctors who change and save lives everyday in nondescript clinics all over the nation. We want to see an awards that also recognizes young Nigerian employees who work their hearts out at their jobs, NYSC corps members who really bring change into the communities where they serve, and also, entrepreneurs who not only become successful in their businesses but also translate that success into their host communities and make positive impacts – not just dressing up the streets with their corporate presence. Can’t we have an award category that rewards young Nigerian lawyers who battle against human rights violation, going into the prisons all over the country and advocating for wrongly arrested Nigerians who are wasting away in our human refuse dumps? These people have also made immense contributions towards creating a promising future for this country and they are worth celebrating. The high, mighty and famous have had enough awards and celebrations to last them for lifetimes. It is about time we started celebrating those we fail to even notice as we go our various ways, even though our very existence is hinged upon their daily efforts and activities.

Curiously, at the just concluded 2009 Future Awards, it was frightful to see the organizers reduce the whole essence of the future (the Nigerian Dream) to the ‘success’ of a music star whose self-professed disregard for moral values in his songs has attracted great opprobrium from a upright section of the Nigerian society. Suffice it to say that the award given to Dapo ‘D’Banj’ Oyebanjo as Young Person of the Year is in many ways a mockery of what the award category claims to represent. According to the organizers, The Young Person of the Year award is “the biggest of the 15 awards, and is for that Nigerian between 18 and 31 who has blazed a trail and achieved mind blowing success in WHATEVER field, and who has become an ultimate role model of talent and hard work for millions of young people. This person must also be a Nigerian with visible leadership skills and who projects positive values that young people primarily and then the whole of Nigeria can connect with. Young people must aspire to be like this person.” For the records, we harbour nothing personal against D’Banj and his ilk, though we disagree in values. But while one may reluctantly permit the award to D’Banj based on the first part of the award criteria, the latter part of the award criteria (hinged on “visible leadership skills” and the projection of “positive values that the whole Nigeria can connect with”) clearly precludes our brother D’Banj from that award category – thus stripping The Future Awards of the truth, openness and fairness characteristic of all credible awards. Not to mention the fact that The Future Awards has an interesting award structure that permits members of the awards’ Board of Judges to be nominated for the same awards! We have instances of Azuh Amatus, Tosyn Bucknor, Tolu Ogunlesi, Ruonah Godwin-Agbroko among others.

Nonetheless, let it be known that it is not the desire of UP-RISING to discredit the endeavours of the initiators of The Future Awards (and subsequently all other awards) but an effort to call for a deeper and more serious reflection on the values of the awards both morally and otherwise. It is a bid to make sure that we channel this excess energy emanating from all nooks and crannies of every youth arena into a path that will ensure healthy growth of OUR nation. It is something we can build on, but not squander. No! Not this time. UP-RISING hopes that the organisers of The Future Awards will read this piece as soon as it is published. They have enough time before the next edition to go back to the drawing board and rectify their stands and standards. Needless to say that they will continue to hear from us as long as they allow themselves to be corroded by the impunity that hinders the progress of so many in this country.

The truth is, we have a long way to go as a nation, united in peace, well-being and prosperity, but we are yet to figure out what path to travel, where to go and how best to get there. We blame the government for being irresponsible and negligent in their duties, but if we could gather ourselves to organize such an event and make it successful, we can imagine how much further we would be able to go if we were to do likewise for the right causes. UP-RISING believes that we would go so far; that those in government may eat up their chairs for all we care, but still we can and would be taking care of ourselves. But right now, we believe it would be best we took a pause, reflect and redirect our efforts currently devoted to chasing fuzzy looking balls. Freight trains are on their way!

We received with great surprise and embarrassment, news that former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton will be speaking at the “Festival of Fraud” that has unfortunately attained global popularity as THISDAY Awards. But for the outstanding reputation of a man as Bill Clinton, we would have been quiet about his invitation and reported confirmation of attendance at the Awards.

Let it be stated loud and clear that all is not well with Nigeria as a country, and this is due largely to the reign of corruption and mediocrity perpetuated by a ruthless and recycled cabal of Nigerian politicians. For decades, Nigeria has witnessed the continued impoverishment of its people amidst numerous human and natural resources. Recently, Mario Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC] declared that between independence and the present day, Nigeria has lost over US$ 400 billion to corrupt leaders! More sickening is the way and manner the current administration of Nigeria’s President Umar Musa Yar’ Adua has continued to shield the likes of James Ibori, a former governor of the oil rich Delta State of Nigeria, two-time ex-convict in the United Kingdom and currently undergoing trial in Nigeria for stealing billions of public funds.

Nduka Obaigbena – Publisher of THISDAY Newspapers – the organizers of THISDAY Awards is widely known for his numerous financial scandals ranging from money laundering to tax evasion, among other shady business activities characteristic of an organized crime syndicate. [http://www.pointblanknews.com/os1058.html]. He has also carved a niche for himself as a loyal agent of corrupt politicians like the aforementioned ex-convict – James Ibori. We will not fail to mention how Nduka Obaigbena was used as a conduit pipe for the looting of Rivers State treasury. Our media mogul friend is yet to account for purported “investments” former Governor of Rivers State – Peter Odili made into his failed South Africa THISDAY Newspapers – an issue which has become a subject of investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC]. That the long arm of the law has not caught up with Mr. Obaigbena yet, pays glowing tributes to his Machiavellian ingenuity.

May we also refresh memories here that it was at Nduka Obaigbena’s THISDAY Africa Rising Concert in London that former US Secretary of State Colin Powell exposed himself to public ridicule when apparently under the influence of alcohol, he jumped to the stage singing and dancing to a performance of the song – ‘Yahooze’. ‘Yahooze’ is a song that celebrates the lifestyle of Internet scammers popularly called ‘Yahoo Boys’ in Nigeria. [http://temi.info/2008/10/15/colin-powell-dancing-yahooze-at-thisday-festival-in-london/]. In the wake of the shameful episode, an embarrassed Nduka Obaigbena rushed to the media with a statement that Mr. Powell should be pardoned, as he didn’t know the meaning of the song!

In the light of the foregoing, we make a passionate appeal to President Clinton to rescind his decision to attend the event as his presence at the event could be misconstrued as a tacit approval of the brigands who have looted the Nigerian treasury with such reckless impunity. If President Clinton eventually attends this event, he would find himself in the midst of some of the most corrupt politicians Nigeria has ever seen. He would be speaking alongside the likes of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Senator Liyel Imoke, and Governor Bukola Saraki. Emmanuel Uduaghan is currently Governor of Delta State and cousin to ex-Governor James Ibori. Uduaghan has been fingered in James Ibori’s numerous dirty deals during the latter’s tenure as Governor of the state. Senator Liyel Imoke was recently indicted by Nigeria’s House of Representatives’ Power Sector Probe Panel for misappropriating over $US 16 billion when he was Minister of Power and Steel. On his part, Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State had ongoing investigations on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] under its former Chairman – Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who was recently removed amidst great public outcry, ostensibly to protect the ruling cabal of corrupt politicians.

There are yet disturbing issues. But far more disturbing is the sickening idea of President Clinton intermingling with an array of corrupt Nigerian politicians at an event whose true intentions must have been ‘miscommunicated’ not just to President Clinton alone, but other dignitaries attending from across the world. As we write these words, we understand that President Clinton is prepared to embark on his trip to Nigeria. And may we specifically remind President Clinton that should he honor this event with his presence, he will be making a second major endorsement of impunity in Nigeria the first being a statement credited to him that former Nigerian military dictator, General Sani Abacha could run for office as a “civilian” even though he was virtually running a fake transition program.

Whatever decision President Clinton eventually makes on this matter, it will become a reference point for history and historians. And quoting George Santayana, “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” We therefore expect President Clinton’s dispassionate consideration of all issues we have raised in this appeal. He has a long-standing reputation as one of the truest friends of Africa ever. We must not allow that hard-earned reputation to be slaughtered on the altar of feigned altruism by political jobbers riding on the powerful platform of the media as patriots of their fatherland.

In concluding this appeal, we have a few questions. Will President Clinton’s attendance of the annual “Festival of Fraud” known as THISDAY Awards affect his reputation negatively or positively? What does Clinton stand to gain if he attends the Awards? Does he have anything to lose if decides otherwise? President Clinton, or perhaps, posterity, will ever be in the best position to provide the answers. God bless Nigeria!

UP-RISING

UP-RISING: Who Are We?

January 13, 2009

UP-RISING is a group of young Nigerian bloggers who by reason of their passion for Nigeria, are rising to the challenge of upsetting, deposing and replacing a status quo that thrives on roguery, treachery, and oppression of the masses with a new order that will flourish on truth, freedom, transparency and a value system that adds value to the lives of the Nigerian people.

In the course of responding to this call to national liberation, UP-RISING will do anything within its disposal to remain committed to its core values towards the realisation of its goals. The group is not a secret society but a cream of young intellectuals with a burning zeal to create impact, disrupt paradigms, change mindsets and save their fatherland from the clear and present danger that currently besets the Nigerian polity. Thus, our identity is defined, not by known names but by the vision we believe in and are ready to die for.

Our Vision:
To see the new Nigeria emerging from the ruins of the old order.

Our Mission:
To use the Internet as a strategic tool for engendering an ethical revolution in the Nigerian polity through the presentation of analytical, insightful, and balanced opinions on issues affecting Nigerians world over.

Our Goals
– To serve as a dependable online platform of information about Nigeria and Nigerians.
– To re-orientate the people of Nigeria towards a reversed socialisation from corruption and its attendant effects towards patriotism.
– To supplant the prevailing culture of corruption in Nigeria.
– To reinforce our fading values of diligence, transparency and integrity.
– To help Nigerians appreciate the value of intellectual productivity as against today’s mounting order of mediocrity.
– To cause change; the right change.

Our Core Values
1. Truth
2. Freedom
3. Integrity
4. Transparency
5. Patriotism
6. Values