"Your Excellency, could you please tell us what you think your responsibilities as representatives of our country are here in Manila? What do you think are the reasons for having a Nigerian embassy in the Philippines? Three of our people have been murdered in cold blood in less than six months with the embassy doing absolutely nothing! How many more Nigerians must be killed before you sit up and ask questions?"
John Igbokwe
Friday, November 16, 1995
To Charge d' Affaires a. i. Mr. Samuel Ajewole
during a meeting on the murder of Nigerian citizens;
inside the Chancery of the Embassy of Nigeria, Manila, Philippines

Why I Wrote This Book

In June 2010, an email from the Nigerian community here in the City of Regina hit my inbox. The mail carried the news of an upcoming visit to the City by a team from Nigeria's National Immigration Service (NIS). As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria was transitioning its international passport system to conform to ECOWAS protocols on the free movement of peoples across borderlines of member states. To that end, it was sending teams from Headquarters to Nigerian diplomatic posts worldwide to provide opportunity to citizens of Nigeria who wish to obtain the new ECOWAS e-passports to do so. A not-so-complicated system had been set up whereby citizens paid for these e-passports at an online portal. They would then print off payment confirmation receipts with which they would later apply for the new e-passports with the visiting teams. The email from the coordinators of the exercise, all respected community members, spelled out what it would financially cost each citizen in Regina to qualify to make an application with the NIS team: in addition to the US$65.00 in e-passport fee (prepaid via web portal) and $30.00 (for courier shipment of e-passport back to applicant) in Money Order made payable to the High Commissioner, $10.00 per application was required of each applicant to cover "accommodation, meals, local transportation, etc." for the three-member team from Ottawa - two members from the NIS and one from the High Commissioner- during their 1.50 days stay in the city.

Although my family of five needed the e-passports and although I considered the dubious additional costs insignificant, I decided to reject the opportunity to obtain the e-passports on grounds of repugnance and detestation. As a citizen utterly intolerant of corruption and injustice, the squeeze from Ottawa was unacceptable! For one, anybody who understands how government works would recognize that diplomats are never dispatched overseas to work and deliver service at the mercy of the local population. Government amply provides for the upkeep of the envoys for the duration of their assignment. Even small businesses provide for travel costs on company assignment. What I found particularly offensive about the entire exercise was that Nigeria's High Commissioner to Canada sanctioned such shady behavior and rip-off. Equally offensive was the attitude of Nigerians in this city, some of who have lived in Canada for decades, are Canadian citizens and understood how these things work and should work and yet thought nothing about their approval of such a sleazy squeeze of the people. Acquiescence can promote evil, including corruption, making some victims sometimes guilty as the perpetrators.

With specific spotlight on Nigeria in the Philippines, the writing of this book was undertaken to tell the story of the bad representation overseas that Nigeria and Nigerian citizens suffer at the hands of envoys paid well to protect their national interests abroad. It has also been written to remind Nigerian citizens overseas that they do have responsibility to take their country's envoys to task when they misbehave or lose sight of their oath of office. What happened in the Philippines should be an object lesson to all Nigerian citizens on how they should not play dead while their official representatives abuse their office and destroy their patrimonial interests.

John Igbokwe