WE ARE HERE TO SERVE YOU, BIANCA OJUKWU TELLS NIGERIANS IN SPAIN
[ Masterweb Reports-25/5/15 – by Uchendu Precious ]
“I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”… (Mathew 15:24). Jesus words here depict a setting of priority and an awareness of Israel’s place in God’s plan of salvation. Every ministry and mission must have priorities. And Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu’s mission in Spain is not an exception. She knows where her duties lay and has a clear cut agenda. Before she came, Spain was like a dead zone and not much was heard of it. But today, the blind see, the lame walk and the dead in Spain will rise before her mission ends. And these have proved that it’s not only our own T.B Joshua that has the monopoly for miracles, even diplomats do.
The African most outstanding Ambassador in Europe implements citizenship diplomacy as her utmost priority. Bianca Ojukwu has taken her crusade of citizenship diplomacy to the door steps of Nigerians in Spain. She says to them, “come let us reason together”. Of recent, she has been having town hall meetings with the Nigerian communities at various cities in Spain. The most recent are the meetings in Malaga and Sevilla where various issues affecting the Nigerian community in Spain were addressed during the interactive sessions.
“We are here to serve you and not to do you a favor”
She said that many Nigerians wallow in ignorance, as they are not well informed, and do not know what their rights, duties and obligations are. Consequent to that, they seek to obtain solutions to their problems through short cuts and wrong channels. The Ambassador gave answers to some questions on salient issues bordering Nigerians such as;
Que. Why are Nigerians asked to bring police report which after a short while the validity expires?
Ans. Police report matter remains a perennial issue. Embassy has always lodged the complaints to the Spanish government concerning obtaining police report from Nigeria instead of Spain where they live and many have not gone home for many years. The matter has been taken to foreign affairs several times. It is a constitutional and statutory issue between Nigeria and Spain and involves some rigorous process to resolve.
The mission flow with the tide sometimes and cannot twist the hand of the government on certain issues. However, in view of the problems the police report imposes to Nigerians, the mission has taken a step forward to request for a certificate of good conduct as an alternative and is waiting for the approval. Also the Embassy has obtained a concession on extension of the 3 months validity date of the police report. Now, the validity date should begin by the date the Embassy stamps the document. Therefore, we appeal to Nigerians to take advantage of this concession.
Que. Why do Nigerians pay so much to obtain police report?
Ans. Police report exercise in Spain stops you from traveling to Nigeria to collect the document. In doing that, the Embassy applies for policemen from forensic department to come to Spain. Bearing in mind that most of our citizens cannot come to the Embassy in Madrid because of not having the legitimate documents to travel. To be able to do that, police sometimes stay up to 3 months in the process travelling from one region to another.
The processing department has to be paid. From the police, certificate travels to interiors affairs ministry, to consulate Embassy Spain in Lagos, from there back to Spain. In addition to all other administrative costs, it is a cumbersome process. The Embassy has even asked association leaders to take up the responsibility if they can. Even at that, the cost has been reduced. And if anyone is asked to pay other than the amount approved by the Embassy by any of the associations, you should report to the Embassy.
Que. Why does Spanish police cease Nigerian passports and easily deport Nigerians. Is it a crime to have Nigerian passport?
Ans. Police has the right to detain a person’s passport while the person is been investigated. Embassy doesn’t interfere with the cause of investigations. But if that goes beyond the stipulated bounds, and is brought to the attention of the mission, we intervene. Police are trained to break the law while keeping the law. In cases of deportation, the Embassy ensures that no Nigerian citizen is unlawfully deported.
There was a case where a citizen was deported, after it was brought to the attention of the Embassy, we went into action and found out that the police did not act very well, and demanded that the citizen be deported back to Spain and he was brought back. In a foreign land, it is important that citizens should be in solidarity and be there brother’s keeper. The Embassy has always encouraged our citizens out there to let us know their plights and give information about others in need of assistance. And the Embassy has made it clear that they will not take it lightly if the rights of our citizens are infringed upon.
But you notice that Nigerians are the weakest in terms of solidarity. An average Nigerian does not want a fellow Nigerian to know how he thrives. Nigerians are not together. The extent of how your problem gets solved is a function of how conscious you are. For your problem to become solved, you have to care for yourself first.
Que. Why do Nigerians find it more difficult to renew their documents?
Ans. The Embassy are doing their very best to make sure that things to a large extent are better for Nigerian citizens. To the average European, there is rampant falsification of documents by Nigerians. Documents are sent to the Embassy for verifications and authentication. And you find out that documents people are paid to forge and falsify are issued by the Embassy free of charge. We are our own worst enemies. The less falsified documents are the better for Nigerians.
Que. What is the Embassy doing to integrate Nigerians into the system?
Ans. This is a societal problem. People decided on their own to migrate to Spain for some reasons. Integration depends more on the individual. The Embassy acts as interface. Embassy showcases Nigerian culture through workshops and seminars on right of citizens. The integration an economic immigrant requires is to take what the host offers. The day to day activities lies within the individual. Citizens should engage in meaningful activities to develop themselves as to fit in the system. Take advantage of NGO’s that offer training services.
Every parent should impart on children born here an identity they should own. That could be inculcated through language. Teach the children your home language and let them know that they have a place they could call their own. Time catches up fast. Give the children what your parents gave to you. And Think more of creating your own society wherever you are.
Delivering a speech which was like a gospel during the event, the Ambassador used the occasion to inform the Nigerian community of the plan to issue ID card to Nigerians in Spain for proper identification in view of the future plan for Nigerians in diaspora to vote. She said, revolution is taking place in Nigeria, and Nigerians in diaspora must be part of it by exercising their voting rights wherever they are. The purpose for issuance of ID card is to identify those who are Nigerians. She noted that many Nigerians have refused to register with their local associations. But with the issuance of the ID card which is free of charge, every Nigerian will be identified.
The Ambassador emphasized on the need for Nigerians to be their brother’s keeper and for solidarity and unity among Nigerians. She lamented that Nigerians are the weakest in terms of solidarity as they are not together as one.
“Our diversity as Nigerians should be our strength rather than weakness”
She made it clear that Mission condemns criminal acts such as 419, drugs, and prostitution. And emphasized on the need to re-orientate our youths to shun crime. She stated that as a matter of commitment, the mission is doing its best to ensure every Nigerian is protected and not molested.
Bianca drew attention to the changing trends in the world such as, the recent Xenophobia crisis, where Africans are being attacked by fellow Africans. She also stressed on the increasing wave of illegal migration. Referring to the recent tragedy on the sea between Libya and Italy, where thousands of Africans perished in the quest to cross to Europe. She minced no words to say that many were lured into this suicidal mission by people abroad who present false impressions about realities on ground.
“Give correct information of what Europe is like”
The Ambassador urged those in diaspora to join efforts with government to curb the tragic incidents of our people perishing in the bid to migrate to abroad. She also drew attention to the political situation in Nigeria. And informed that a new president elect Buhari, would be sworn in on May 29. She commended the sportsmanship of President Jonathan to concede defeat to the President elect. And enjoined Nigerians to support the incoming government of Buhari.
*Photo Caption – Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu chairing Malaga town hall meeting.