Dear American Consulate, not all Nigerians want to flee to the U.S., By Yetunde Williams

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The tired excuse that ‘our leaders’ or ‘Nigerians’ caused this poor treatment from the embassy is withered and definitely not fully true. It’s almost exhausting and must elicit a yawn when listening to the consulate officials do the press conferences and dig about how there are bad rackets causing people to be ‘scammed’. OK, how come other foreign embassies show more regard to Nigerians?

Many Nigerians actually love to live in Nigeria in spite of all that happens here.

If you want to be treated shabby, poorly or unfairly, the place to go would definitely be the American embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. Do not let the American embassy, Lagos happen to you!

Where do we start? There needs to be a change.

The tired excuse that ‘our leaders’ or ‘Nigerians’ caused this poor treatment from the embassy is withered and definitely not fully true. It’s almost exhausting and must elicit a yawn when listening to the consulate officials do the press conferences and dig about how there are bad rackets causing people to be ‘scammed’. OK, how come other foreign embassies show more regard to Nigerians? Yet, America preaches ‘fairness’, ‘equal opportunity’, alas!

The consulate is definitely running out of control and Nigerians bear the brunt. Enough!

It is almost a norm now that no matter how ‘eligible’ you are for a visa, you could NEVER tell how things will go with your application. Truth be told, it would depend on how grouchy your interviewer is most of the time. Uncouth is to put it mildly. It’s worse when it comes from microphones blaring!

With close monitoring, the consulate must agree that their staff are far below par. They are no compare with those of other missions.

It is time that the consulate takes another look at their processes, except this is actually just a commercial venture. Why are people who have gotten EMERGENCY DATES now rescheduled to miss the same appointments they earlier got approval from the consulate to attend?

Why does the embassy tell people to lay complaints by email and they hardly ever respond? Not even an acknowledgement! Many can testify that the embassy hardly ever responds to emails of complaints. A case in question is one in which a group asked for EMERGENCY DATES (a feature approved by the embassy if you have a medical appointment, a time-bound conference, etc.) The truth? It’s a waste of time to trust this process. The simple, case in question; emergency dates were sought by a group for a children’s conference in November 2021. Approval was given by the consulate in December 2021 for this conference, which was to take place in March 2022. For each child, dates were changed at least seven times, with no correspondence. On the last week, in February, an email was sent to reschedule dates for half of them for March and another half for November, a very long time after the conference would have ended! This, in essence, means there was no need to seek an emergency date in the first place. Preparation by the children for this conference started in August 2021. Alas, not one of these children got a visa.
When can you pick up your passport? No one can tell. It’s no news that some pick up theirs after two days, others after 12 days! There are cases in question where some have missed their appointments in America because they could not pick up their passports 10 days after. There is no one to call or write to for help. Guess what? It’s a waste of time. No one is likely to respond.

Our Nigerian children are resilient, hard working and focused. They are children so, naturally, they are traumatised and their confidence damaged if they have no clue why the American embassy has happened to them!

Now, let’s talk about if you are amongst the lucky few who actually gets the visa. Well, congratulations, you’ve gotten a visa; you are the one per cent of the one per cent. One of the lucky few. But another bump in the road exists.

When can you pick up your passport? No one can tell. It’s no news that some pick up theirs after two days, others after 12 days! There are cases in question where some have missed their appointments in America because they could not pick up their passports 10 days after. There is no one to call or write to for help. Guess what? It’s a waste of time. No one is likely to respond.

How do you get a visa and wait till no end for a simple message to tell you that your passport is ready! It is common knowledge that this is the trend now.

You wait to no end for a simple message to tell you your passport is ready? Who is in charge? No word or guide or text about when to collect your passport. The best thing is to keep checking DHL, as there could be no clear message on the monitoring site. Just go to DHL and be turned back.

Is it so tough to notify people? Most now know the treatment of Nigerians by the consulate.

In terms of the interviews, there is an obvious profile of the interviewers, which appears largely uninterested; generally, they are aloof, throwing subtle accusations like one wants to skip Nigeria. They seem irritable, and pay no attention.

Not all Nigerians want to live in America. Thats the truth! Not all Nigerians are crooks. It’s time that paint brush be put away, as even Americans can attest to the resilience, work ethic and hard work of Nigerians. Look at America.

Whilst not making a case for anyone who is dubious, it is important to highlight a few ‘vulnerable’ groups who have good reason to travel to the United States. The American embassy has ingrained a lack of confidence for the Nigerian child. Every year, at about August, high school children are trained in preparation for United Nations conferences. The children who attend are normally from high networth, elite homes and top schools. It is no longer news that these children, some of whom have even visited America prior to this, never get their visas for no clear reason. What is horrendous is the grilling and rudeness they experience at the embassy only to be turned back with no clear reasons. No documents are viewed – oh, that is normal now!

So, what have Nigerians done to deserve this, one asks? Oh yes, they would tell stories about rackets, dubious behaviour, etc? Every country has them. No excuse but why the hostility to the decent percentage of Nigerians who seek visas?

To even pick up your valid visa, and your passport, get a seat and get ready to sit for hours! A few days ago, an old couple got to the embassy mid-day and they were number 463! Why? Is it not time the consulate looked at this very flawed model. You, the Americans do not allow too many into your embassy – social distancing, COVID-19 protocols, but you crowd the tiny DHL office with so many people waiting for their passports. Something is wrong somewhere.

The trauma caused by the shabby, unfair treatment by the embassy must stop. Leave the Nigerian child out! Spare decent adults! You can even refuse the visas but do not forget the respect!

So, what have Nigerians done to deserve this, one asks? Oh yes, they would tell stories about rackets, dubious behaviour, etc? Every country has them. No excuse but why the hostility to the decent percentage of Nigerians who seek visas?

Why are you letting us pay for visas that would most likely be rendered useless since you change dates without any notice?

How come the correspondence is such a mess? How come, sometimes one does not get a confirmation of appointment after fulfilling all the requirements? Is business alone that forgets service. Is the consulate focused on fees paid with no proper services rendered?
Treat me poorly in America – its not my home; but treat me poorly in Nigeria and its a no-no.

Trauma and pain come where there is no fairness. No, they do not all have to get visas but come to think of it, what makes anyone eligible for an American visa? Well, maybe, a happy, not so grouchy interviewer!

Yetunde Williams writes from Lagos.