By Cecilia Ologunagba
The Consulate General of Nigeria in New York has dismissed a tweet by one Dr Deborah Olubamiji that she was talked down on when she and her family visited the consulate to obtain their passports.
Olubamiji in a twitter handle @DrOlubamiji, on June 16 alleged that she was at the Nigeria House with her family to obtain their passports and they were talked down on.
She alleged that the staff treated them as if they didn’t matter and that she observed inconsistent processes, late arrival of employees and lack of empathy.
To set the records straight, the vonsulate in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in New York described the allegations as false and deceptive.
According to the consulate, Olubamiji arrived on the 2nd floor of Nigeria House on the said day in the afternoon in the company of her husband, Mr Oluwole Victor Awoyeji and her daughter, a toddler, and they were received at the window by a staff, who first processes passport applicants.
“Upon scrutinising the family’s documents presented by Awoyeji, the family was informed that payments made in respect of the application for the renewal of passports of the two adults had expired as the applications were made in March, 2022.
“It was explained to them that payments for passport applications on the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) passport application platform expire if an applicant did not present themselves for biometrics within a year of the application.
“Thereafter, Olubamiji in anger, spewed invectives at the staff of the consulate threatening to report to the President of Nigeria, whom she claimed to know personally, and cause the staff to lose their jobs.’’
At some point, the consulate explained that her husband was seen trying to calm her down and in the midst of this, another staff hearing the commotion came out of her office and beckoned to Awoyeji to find out was going on.
He explained the problem to her and she pointed out that the way his wife was going would further complicate rather than solve their problem.
As this was going on, the Head of the immigration section walked into the hall and witnessed the yelling at the staff of the consulate, who, throughout the period remained calm and never responded to the insults.
The immigration officer’s intervention ensured that the family’s biometrics were taken and she promised to promptly send a request to the NIS technical partners in Nigeria to sort out the expired payment issue.
She left for her office on another floor of the building and soon after, the couple joined her. They apologised for the incident and expressed appreciation to her for intervening.
They were also referred to the Receptionist on the same floor, who guided them on how to reach the consulate through the switchboard.
The consulate further stated that Olubamiji did not notice any staff coming late as when they arrived, they met staff at every desk they went to and they were promptly attended to.
It stated that perhaps she thought that staff in the Biometrics Enrolment Room returning after lunch break were just reporting for the day, noting that a review of the CCTV footage on this day quickly debunked this outrageous allegation.
The consulate, however, noted that though it is saddled with the responsibility of providing vital consular services, especially passports, it has limitations as technical issues like those presented in the case under reference can only be fixed from Nigeria.
It stated that If Olubamiji had shown this understanding and did not go the way she did, the unfortunate situation would have been avoided.
“The general public is kindly invited to note that despite the numerous challenges, the consulate General of Nigeria, New York, has been making efforts to provide an atmosphere where consular services would be provided to applicants in a timely, professional and courteous manner.
“It is noteworthy that without the support and understanding of applicants, it will be very difficult to achieve these noble objectives.,’’ it stated.