Hushpuppi Nigerianus

ONE of the primary functions of any government all over the world is to ensure that the welfare of its citizens is at the front burner of its cardinal programmes so that in return, the sanctimonious preachment by its leaders and the patriotism so much coveted by the government’s hangers-on will be ingrained and burning glowingly in those citizens, respectively. It then beats all sense of decency, decorum and humanity if that same government is the one bilking her returning diasporans through monumental frauds by hiding under the pretext of protecting their health or avoiding the spread of a lethal disease through deceits, gimmickry or outright fleecing of citizens of their deep pockets. Of late, returnees to Nigeria have been entrapped in the vortex of a cunningly-choreographed heist by their government to swindle them of their hard-earned funds using this COVID-19 pandemic as a smokescreen. The maddening rush of our government agencies to cash in on the ‘largesse’ that diasporans have come to be associated with is not only unconscionable but frighteningly unparalleled in the annals of national ethos and consciousness. The unabashed hauteur of the dramatis personae in this ring of infraction is also sacrilegious.

It is no longer news that the so-called diagnostic centres for the COVID-19  Polymerase Chain Reaction Test (PCR) are owned by some officials of government, fronts, mistresses, friends, family members and perennial parasites on government parastatals. In their sadistic and inhumane dispositions, they connive with the Centre for Disease Control to coerce all returnees into these transparent subterfuge and chicanery that they called PCR tests to hoodwink all and sundry that they want to prevent the spread of the fatal virus. Willy-nilly, a returnee must fill his details on the CDC’s portal online and pay electronically or defer such payment till he arrives the shores of Nigeria. There is nothing wrong with that in the actual sense but when returnees are feasted upon by our ever-burgeoning, inveterate and insatiable fetid maggots with insensate ferocity, it is abhorrent, reprehensible, condemnable and morally repugnant. To add to the morass of mess in our corruption-laden and corruption-enabled system, the fat cats of Nigerian Immigration at the airports are always thrusting their soiled and inveigled hands to every returnee for pecuniary gratifications at every twist and turn.

Take Lagos State for example. A returnee will be directed to one of the laboratories owned by the hirelings afore-written and asked to pay N54,500 only, within seven days of arrival in the country. This is despite having a negative PCR result from the country of residence brandished conspicuously even to any blind official!. The PCR test in that country of residence is always offered altruistically free. So, Nigeria and its megalomaniac agents are profiting from where they do not sow. Pre-boarding PCR test must also be done within 48-72 hours and must be negative so as not to incur the opprobrium of the flight attendants by being asked to quarantine,  and they are seriously working in cahoots with the Nigerian officials to perpetrate this fraud. This test also attracts another fee of N50,450 only. In the whole analysis, a returnee that spends so little a time as one week in Nigeria is milked dry to the tune of more than 100,000 Naira! This is daylight robbery that even makes Ramon Olorunwa Abbas aka huspuppi a saint in the chess game of fraud.

The annoying thing is that this heist is hatched, midwifed and nurtured to this level in a multi-layered racketeering by the government and its merciless agencies and they share the loots therefrom. It is easier now for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than seamlessly procure an international passport. The immigration agency stinks thickly like a putrid and putative cadaver. It will take a surgical operation to clean its Augean stable.  The officials are enmeshed and ensconced in intellectual and moral vacuity. Each official gives his/her account number to an applicant to pay into when a single centralized  account should have been the rational cauldron to be able to painstakingly trace each applicant’s payment. It’s a rat race in any immigration office in Nigeria as the officials are competing brazenly, with reckless abandon to swindle applicants by asking for humongous amounts to get passports with tears. What steps are being taken by  Ogbeni Aregbesola to address all of these corruption cases under his watch? Behind the catechismal make-believe probity and accountability by the various heads of our parastatals and ministries are rotten, merciless and flippant officials that are smiling to the banks in addition to their salaries and fronting for their heads who pretend to be saints.

Honourable Minister of Interior, the undesirable elements in the agencies under your watch are too inebriated with corruption and they treat fellow citizens with condescension, disdain and haughtiness. They fleece returnees  and passport applicants with psychotic relish and in many cases, with gruesome glee after milking them dry. Is it a crime to work outside the shores of Nigeria? Afterall, if Nigeria is administered well, most of those working outside will not be there in the first instance. Lip service and facade indifference will not be the panacea to those issues highlighted in this piece. Heads must be made to roll in any cases of infractions to serve as a deterrent to any erring officials. Seamless procurement of passports should be the order of the day as it is done in many countries. The cartel charging huge amounts of money to do PCR tests must be unmasked. These tests are done free in many countries that love their people.

  • Dr. Afelumo is a practising physician in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


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