Sunday 11th March 2018, Abuja, Nigeria.
Dr Aminu Magashi Garba, Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network and Publisher of Health Reporters has condemned the dehumanizing ways Nigerians are being treated at the Indian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria on a daily basis for visa processes. He narrated his experience of Friday 9th March 2018 with an appointment of 10:15am, he was only called by the Visa Officer few minutes to 12 noon. He was invited by the Center for Health and Social Justice based in New Delhi to participate in Learning Exchange Workshop on Community Participation in Reproductive Health from March 22nd to 23rd 2018 with confirmed accommodation and roundtrip flight ticket and all trip expenses covered by the organizers as contained in the letter he submitted. The organizers ahead of his appointment date had already sent to the Embassy his invitation letter as well as approval to organize the conference provided by the Indian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
After submitting all necessary documents for a 2 day conference including 3 months’ bank statement and 3 months’ salary pay slips for a conference trip that is already fully paid by the organizers, the Visa Officer still asked him to go and bring a cover letter from his Bank as well as photocopies of all his degree certificates plus professional qualifications for a few days conference visa. To cap it all the Visa Officer was talking with degree of arrogance and contempt and even his window screen is ‘TINTED”, so no one even see his face but only hears his voice. Dr Magashi had observed that other Nigerians before he was called upon were treated the same way with 1-2 hours appointment delay and many were kept under the ‘SUN” for the waiting time. A 2-3 days conference visa is charged at N93, 000, which is the highest in the diplomatic circle in Abuja.
The ‘TINTED” Glass window so that no one can see the face of the Visa Officers is only being practice at the Indian High Commission in Abuja which further demonstrates “contempt” meted on Nigerians on daily basis.
Upon witnessing this dehumanizing treatment, Dr Magashi collected all his documents and cancelled his official tip as a “humble” protest for the Indian High Commission to start treating Nigerians with respect and human dignity.
He is humbly calling on the Indian High Commissioner to do the following;
- Review the visa process and the requirements to fit the different visa categories realistic needs.
- Institute “Customer Care Response Box” for clients to be filling as is being done in many Embassies in Abuja.
- Review the exorbitant Visa Prices in line with the different visa categories.
- Train the Visa Officers on strategic interpersonal communication and counselling
- Remove the “TINTED” Glass in the visa window and start treating Nigerians with decency.
- Respect appointment time as it is stated in the visa application forms.
- Also read below, personal testimonies of many Nigerians who suffered similar experiences.
What Nigerians said in a Facebook Chat monitored on the 10th March 2018 about Indian High Commission?
“What Nigerians are facing at the Indian High Commission in Abuja for visa is dehumanizing, people are treated like lepers, and at times I wonder if at all we have a Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry for Nigerians? After tasting dehumanizing treatment, I have to leave and I have cancel the trip.”
“India High Commission in Abuja is the worst diplomatic office in Nigeria”
“I just met an Indian guy that came to Nigeria today he told us he was given Nigerian visa at Nigerian embassy in India under 2days. Then why are they treating Nigerians for visa in hardship”
“I also noticed such trash in 2016 but I immediately called them to order and my visa processing went smoothly. The Ministry of Internal Affairs should address this mess with immediate alacrity”
“It’s very unfortunate how some embassies treat Nigerians in our own country”
“That is what people face every day. Indian embassy in Nigeria doesn’t have regards for whoever you are in Nigeria. They are only here to protect their business in Nigeria. That is how you see it at almost all embassies across the country and it is as a result of our weak foreign policy. It is a shame on Nigeria Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs”
“It’s really sad what’s happening at Indian Embassy in Abuja. Everybody has his own terrible experience. I remembered my last year experience. It’s high time our foreign affairs ministry do something about this mess.”
“About 3 months ago we were there and treated not well. We travelled from Kano and the visa guy asked us to print some documents and bring back, few minutes to 12noon which we promptly did and return. He just locked us out and insisted we were late and had to return on Wednesday being a Friday before the Xmas break. We travelled back on that Wednesday and we met our teacher a Famous Professor of Neurosurgery, a two term Chief Medical Director of a Teaching Hospital and a former Chief Medical Director of another hospital and currently a Vice Chancellor of a University. He was invited to a Neurosurgical conference in India. They kept on treating him like a kid asking him to go and bring all sorts of documents until they exhausted his patience and threatened that if further demands are made he would just forgot the trip. They made further demands which were embarrassing. He just retrieved his documents and left. It was really dehumanizing and the treatment of our teacher was even the most terrible one. Now we are in our 3rd month still awaiting their visa verdict”
“This is the result of the failure of our healthcare system. 80% of people applying for Indian visa are going on medical tourism. If we don’t fix our country, we will always be treated as parasites. We must rise up and rid our country from corrupt leaders so that we can reposition our foreign policies”
“Indian Embassy must stop this dehumanizing treatment of Nigerians”
“All these happen because it doesn’t affect the elites and intellectuals were silent about it. Also the number of Nigerians patronizing India for business and health reasons are progressively increasing daily. However, we are running a democratic system, if we have multiples officials/public complaint to the appropriate authorities’ things will improve”
“I applied for Indian visa outside Nigeria in a foreign land and they kept my passport and application for nearly 2 months. In the end I applied to withdraw my application because I need the passport for another trip. I was going to teach a field class for a master’s degree on urban health. Everyone on the trip including students from other African countries got their visas and passport back in one week. I think there’s deep contempt for Nigerians. But as someone pointed above we are contributing to it. I don’t think I will be applying for Indian visa ever”
I agree with you absolutely. Despite my several trips (for Medicals) to India in the past, I had to wait for well over 2 months before been issued medical visa. There are a lot of other cases of bad experiences of Nigerian Citizens being treated badly at the Indian embassy.”
“I experienced this treatment some months ago when I went for interview. The way they treated us is dehumanizing”
“Yes they get away with all the rubbish because we have a foreign affairs ministry that lacks vision and focus”
About Dr Aminu Magashi Garba
He is the Chair Board of Trustees of Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR), one of the leading and foremost advocacy NGO in Nigeria using evidence based advocacy to improve health sector. He founded and coordinates the Africa Health Budget Network (www.africahbn.info) which is à regional network that uses budget advocacy to influence adequate health sector finances. He is a newspaper weekly health columnist with a Nigerian Newspaper ‘Daily Trust’ for over 15 years and the publisher of an online newspaper ‘Health Reporters (www.healthreporters.info) that reports on Africa’s health. He can be reached at +234-80-62586203 and GAmagashi@gmail.com