Why is Embassy of Nigeria contracting Passport renewal with a shady businessman in Los Angeles?Articles/Opinion Thursday, September 19th, 2013
By Dr. Joshua Olagunju, California
It is with great pain, embarrassment, sadness, and shame that I am reluctantly writing this negative piece on Nigerian affairs. I am not one of those who dive easily into criticizing my country of birth. I know the easiest thing for me to do is nothing – just walk away and turn my head without ever talking about it. But I won’t do that today. I will either try to fix the problem myself or confront the perpetrator. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
I have served as the President of the Nigerian Association of Southern California and remain a board member. I was a Founding Member/President of Omo Yoruba in California and remain a board member. I was the first Chairman of the Organization of Nigerian Unity (ONU) in California. I consider myself to be a Nationalist and a quiet goodwill ambassador of Nigeria wherever I go. To be confronted by an extortionist and egotistical businessman such as Mr. Reginald Obiamalu in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, September 08, 2013 over the renewal of Nigerian passport is just too much for me to just stand by and do nothing.
I have cell phone video tapes and pictures of Obiamalu claiming: “If God himself comes to the location today, He will not get His passport renewed.” This is an outrageous statement to spit out to a fellow Nigerian. I have heard about these situations occurring more than twice before with Obiamalu. Police were called to his location to kick out fellow Nigerians who were not pleased with his tone of voice. He claimed: “I brought the Embassy of Nigeria here, and they would only see whom I want them to see.” Obiamalu behaves like a crook and a thug, not a representative of Nigeria that I can point to with pride. People were denied services to renew their Nigerian passport because Obiamalu said so. He has actually said to the Nigerians: “If you have a good car, you should drive to San Jose in Central California which is about 500 miles away to complete your passport process”. Many people have called and texted Obiamalu to find out if they should drive to the Los Angeles location with no response from him. I can verify this, as I am one of them. I called and texted him and got no reply. I can provide a copy of my text. In my long Nigerian community service in Southern California, I had never met Obiamalu before, and my first time experience with him is sad. He should never have been given this much responsibility and authority over Nigerians in Southern California. Obiamalu rented a meeting room from a Mexican church. His first action when a new person appeared to get a passport was to meet them in the church parking lot and determine whether that person is his friend before allowing them in the building. More than ten families seeking services at this location have signed a joint petition to never use Mr. Reginald Obiamalu for Nigerian Embassy activities in the future. A copy of this petition is available for viewing and will be sent to the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC. I wonder how did we Nigerians in Los Angeles, California become puppets of a shylock businessman like Reginald Obiamalu?
There used to be a Nigeria Consulate office in San Francisco, California in the 80’s. The office was closed around 1986-87 for unknown reasons. I believe that government of Nigeria still owns the property in San Francisco and it is available for the Nigerian government to utilize. There are over half of a million Nigerians living in California with no local Nigerian Consular services available. Southern California is home to more than fifty percent of the Nigerians in California, with Northern and Central California sharing the rest. The Nigerian Association of Southern California (NASCA) and The League of Patriot Nigerian (LOPAN) have requested the reestablishment of Nigerian Consulate offices in California. Several Nigerian Ministers of Foreign Affairs had previously promised that the Nigerian Consulate in San Francisco, California would be reopened, but so far it hasn’t happened.
I do not think the Nigerian government really wants to outsource the one service that many Nigerians in America use to an individual who is just in it for himself. I think the Embassy of Nigeria needs to be sensitive to our concerns.
I just came back from Nigeria where I renewed my passport with no problems. I am now spreading the good news that Nigeria is doing much better than many people thought. I arrived at the Lagos Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Nigeria with no one demanding bribes and no hustle. I am telling anybody who wants to know that Nigeria is much better than ever. The police on the street are not demanding anything, but just watching people going about their daily lives. I am very disappointed that in a country like America, where we expect good customer service, the Nigerian Embassy in Washington has delegated responsibility to a person who some would call a rogue.
Chief of the Mission, His Excellency, Ambassador Prof Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, we are asking for your help in fixing this situation. Obiamalu has called the police on Nigerians before and we do not want our children and families in the USA to be treated as criminals. We do not feel that Obiamalu should be contracted with or allowed to volunteer to perform these services again before you reopen the Consulate in San Francisco. If there is a need for immediate passport renewal services, please consult the Nigerian Organization in Southern California.
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