Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Thursday, March 6, 2014 Under: Our Headline Articles

The Nigerian Consul General Hon. Okey Emuchay MFR during an interview with the Nigerian Voice Newspaper in his Johannesburg office at the Nigerian Consulate Illovo, Sandton told Nigerians leaving in South Africa that South Africa is not Nigeria, therefore the moment you board the airline or ship to another person’s country, you must comport yourselves, learn the ways, the laws and the regulations of your host country. If you don’t, the long arm of the law will catch up with you “our nationals have to understand, and I continually underline that South Africa is not Nigeria, the moment you board the airline or ship to another person’s country, you must learn the ways, the laws and the regulations of your host, indeed a lot of our nationals go to the extent of learning their language, marrying their ladies, you must know how they do things, you must comport yourself because if you have brushes with the law, the long arm of the law will catch up with you”, he specifically made it clear that when the arms of the law catches up with you the Consulate will only intervene “Ours is to come and intervene as part of our consular responsibility, but ours is not to encourage our national to go against the laws, regulations, customs, cultures and traditions of our host. They must continually remember that here is not Nigeria, even in Nigeria if you commit offence or you get involved in criminal activities, the long arm of our law will catch up with you. So it’s no different from here”.

The amiable Consular General is concerned on the need for our nationals to come together in unity and not just when there is calamity, he stressed that Nigeria is one country which have one flag, one passport, and one national anthem “Again we need to encourage our nationals to come together, we have one flag, we have one passport and we have one national anthem, we are all Nigerians, but from different parts, there are 36 states in Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja (FCT) and I know we have people from all part of Nigeria that are here”.

 “A lot of our nationals for reasons best known to them do not want to associate with others, they only come out if there is a problem, they only come out when there is a calamity, when someone has died or whatever, they start looking for other Nigerians, but if things are going well for them, they don’t bother”. “Nigerians will only come to the Consulate when they have lost their passport, and they want Emergency Travel Certificates (ETC) or a relation has died, a brother or sister has passed on, and they need to have their documentation processed to enable them return the remains to Nigeria, that’s the only time you see them.

But ideally, it’s even at the back of the passport that when you get to a foreign country your first contact should be with your mission”. He continued “We have a register here but not too many people come to register and to tell us they are here, even for those on short visit, those on business, pleasure or tourist and all of that, once you are a Nigerian, first you look for your mission, you know where they are located and then you announce your presence to us. It’s not when you are robbed or you have lost your bag, and then all your passport and everything is gone then you start looking for the mission. You must do that both in good and bad situation”, Hon Okey Emuchay MFR stated.

Consular Okey Emuchay MFR who in most cases is mistaken as the Nigerian Ambassador by many Nigerians because of his enviable personality, frequent appearance within the Nigerian community functions, and his ability to interact with Nigerians in a very friendly but official manner pleaded with Nigerians to safe guard their e-passport because when lost, it can only be re-issued in Abuja, Nigeria “whenever I go round the provinces to address our nationals, I say it that none of our missions abroad is allowed to re-issue a lost or misplaced passport, we don’t have authority to do that, you must find your way to Nigeria. It use to be Lagos and Abuja, but to curb abuse, you can only have it replaced at Nigeria Immigration Service headquarters in Abuja. So if you lose your e-passport or you misplace your e-passport the most we can do here is process an Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC) which is free to enable you return to Nigeria to process a fresh passport”.

Hon. Okey Emuchay MFR promised that a Consular card will soon be introduced to curb the frequent issue of lost or misplaced passports “A lot of our nationals have the habit of loosing there passport for reason which are obvious, sometimes they are stopped on the road, in their work places or public places by police to produce their identity, for that reason they need to constantly carry their passport about. So part of what we are doing with these is to generate what we call a Consular Card that will have the same information you have on the data page of your e-passport with your passport photograph, so when the police stops you, you just produce your consular card and show them. So you safe guard your e-passport”.

The Consul General who is mostly referred to by Nigerians as the people’s consular insist that the Nigerian Community is very vital to the Consulate and the welfare of Nigerians is one of the most important functions of the Consulate. He shared one of the success story of the Consulate which has been the ability to go round the Nine (9) Provinces including Johannesburg to capture Nigerian nationals for the processing and Issuance of the e-passport. He narrated to us how he seriously pushed hard to get the Nigerian Immigration to deploy the Mobil Accusation Machine to South Africa “two and a half years ago, I pleaded, I struggled, I was able to get the then Director General (DG) of the Nigeria Immigration Service Rtd Mr. Ude to approve the deployment of the Mobil Accusation Machine to me here, so with that machine, our nationals in Durban, Cape Town and other places can be captured, so if you have a full compliment a man, his wife and four children, they don’t have to fly into Johannesburg and be captured and then come back again when the passports are ready so that the passport will be activated. The money they would have spent, I encourage them to send to Nigeria to help and grow our economy”. 

He further went on to praise and appreciates NUSA for the part they are playing with regards to the e-passport “it’s been a huge success and we do that on the platform of NUSA because we cannot just deploy officers to go for an individual who is in Richards Bay, so the provisional chapters of the NUSA does that, and now they have been very creative, they have also establish the Wards because of the vastness of South Africa and the vastness of the Provinces, as you are aware one end of Kwazulu Natel Province to the other end is about Eight (8) hours”. He said contrary to the opinion by people NUSA Executives are not paid, they are contributing their time, they are contributing their resources for the welfare and benefit of their fellow Nigerians. I applaud them; I lack words to express the gratitude of the mission and Federal Government of Nigeria to them, to their effort.

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