The Ambassador of the Federal Republic Nigeria to Germany, His Excellency Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, has called on Nigerians seeking consular services to desist from patronising touts. They should rather communicate directly with officials of the embassy, he charged.
The envoy issued the advice at a meeting with the representatives of the Nigerian community in his office on Monday (1 February). The meeting, jointly attended by officials of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Germany (NIDO Germany), Nigerian Community Germany (NCG) and Concerned Nigerians in Germany (CNG), was to deliberate on topical issues of concern to Nigerians in Germany.
Chibuzo Uzoma, chairman of the Nigerian Community Berlin and a member of the community delegation, raised the issue of touts at the embassy, wondering how they find their way around the chancery.
David Peters, chairman of NCG, in support of Uzoma’s observation, said there was still a cabal operating at the embassy and pointed to difficulties still being experienced by applicants in booking appointments.
The ambassador said the embassy was working assiduously to make touts irrelevant through the development of an efficient service delivery system. He advised Nigerians to stop patronising touts.
In his contribution, Joseph Okoro, the new Minister for Political Affairs, advised that Nigerians should not wait until their passports are about to expire before seeking their renewal.
“They should apply for renewal well in advance of the expiration of their passports,” he charged. By doing so, they would not fall into desperate situations that make them seek alternatives to the normal application process which is why they patronise touts, Mr Okoro opined.
Alhaji Tuggar assured of swift action against any officials of the embassy found guilty of acts of corruption and misconduct and called on complainants to provide concrete information when lodging complaints against officials.
The ambassador called on Nigerians to make cabals irrelevant by communicating directly with embassy’s officials and not through agents.
Other issues discussed during the meeting include improved communication between the embassy and the community and the recently introduced fees for consular services.
Mr Peters said Nigerians were complaining of the recently introduced administrative charges of 20 euros in addition to regular charges for consular services at the embassy.
Ambassador Tuggar explained that the new charges were introduced in accordance with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, who had charged the country’s foreign missions to increase their revenue generation. The federal government had reduced its grants to Nigeria’s foreign missions because of the difficult economic situation of the country, the ambassador revealed.
Peters also raised the issue of the €150-fee for express passport application, known as Fast Track for Passport Issuance.
Applicants who choose the Fast-Track process do not need any prior appointment and would not pay any additional administrative fees outside of the normal passport application charge. Moreover, they would be assisted in the filling of their forms and can collect their passports the same day.
Peters expressed the complaints of Nigerians about the fee, which they deem unfair. A position supported by Chuks Lewis Ehiwario of CNG.
The ambassador explained that the Fast-Track process was optional and its introduction was to enable the embassy raise money to maintain its services in view of the reduction of its grant from Abuja. He said the fee was not unfair as the revenue generated would enable the embassy to provide better services to all Nigerians.
The ambassador used the event to introduce the new principal officials who have just resumed duty at the Embassy and were present at the meeting. These are:
Mr Omeh Nwokpoku, Minister Information, Culture & Education
Mr Joseph Okoro, Minister/Political
Mr Abdurrahman Arab Yadam, Head Consular & Immigration
Mr Olushola Fayombo, Immigration Attaché I
Mr Dyadya Aliyu, Immigration Attaché II
Ambassador (Mrs) Shakirat Ogundero, the Deputy Head of Mission, has returned to Nigeria but her successor has not resumed, Alhaji Tuggar said. Mrs Foluke Atanda, Head of Chancery, also participated at the meeting.
Ambassador Tuggar assured the delegation of his commitment to increased engagement with the community and the improvement of service delivery at the embassy.
Members of the Nigerian community delegation who met the Ambassador were David Peters, President of NCG, Nnamdi Achonu (Vice President of NCG), Mazi Obiora Nweke, (General Secretary of NCG and PRO of NIDOG), Daniel Otuali (PRO, NCG), Chief Isiah Illikanu (Patron, NCG), Chuks Lewis Ehiwario (President, CNG), Chibuzo Uzoma (Chairman of the Nigerian Community Berlin) and Femi Awoniyi, (General Secretary, NIDOG).