Ewohime Apkovweta’s Actions In London Should Open Our Eyes!

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‘Ewohime Apkovweta’s actions in London should open our eyes to the fact that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. Said Mr Ayo Akinfe, a UK based Nigerian author and critic. He went on to list out 10 critical points to back his opinion.

[1] “Over the last 24 hours or so, we have been inundated with pictures and commentary about the actions of 32, year old Ewohime Apkovweta, who destroyed five embassy cars outside the Nigerian high commission in London. Frustrated at the failure of the mission to issue him his passport as scheduled, he took out his frustration on their vehicles. Apart from damaging five high commission cars, he also destroyed two vehicles belonging to innocent people, that just happened to be parked in the wrong place at the wrong time

[2] For me, his actions do not represent the way forward. Wanton damage of public property does not solve anything. Some high-powered civil servant in the foreign ministry will put in a claim for the repair of those vehicles and I can guarantee you, they will be about five times the actual cost. This opens up another avenue for corruption. Money that should have been spent on services will now go into private pockets

[3] Having said that and as condemnable as his actions may be, I fully understand what drove Mr Apkovweta to lash out. Our high commission in London can be very frustrating as they never have enough passport booklets, they make you wait for months when you need your passport here and now and sometimes, their actions can have serious implications on people. For instance, I know of a Nigerian who needed his passport to get indefinite leave to remain in the UK but because the high commission did not issue him his passport, he lost out. Apparently, not having a passport automatically negates your application

[4] This week alone, I have been approached by no fewer than four people who have asked me to use my influence at the high commission to speed up the issuance of their passports. With the busy summer period upon us, many people want to travel but unfortunately, the high commission is not geared up for this

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[5] In every other walk of life, you plan for the busy periods. For instance, retail clothing chains step up the production of shorts, sandals, slippers and vests in the summer, knowing that demand will be high. Likewise, pharmaceutical companies dramatically increase the amount of sunblock cream they manufacture in the summer when demand will be high. These are basic realities of commercial life that we have to learn in Nigeria

[6] When I look at the number of roads that get flooded in the Nigerian rainy season, I cannot but ask myself if the state governors did not know that the rains fall heavily between March and October. Should we not have at least two special reservoirs attached to the Rivers Niger and Benue that get opened during the rain season. Should each state capital not have special underground drains for emergency situations when it rains heavily?

[7] You see what Mr Apkovweta did in London is no different from what our Niger militants, Lagos Omo Onile’s, Ipob youths and now Fulani Almajiris are doing. Frustrated with the lack of action by the authorities and establishment, they take the law into their own hands and act. Most times, their actions are irrational and tend to hurt the common man more than the powers-that-be. For instance, it is ordinary Nigerians who are also victims of misgovernance that are being kidnapped on highways across the country. None of the governors who pocket money meant to educate the Almajiris has been kidnapped for a ransom

[8] No doubt, Ewohime Apkovweta will now bear the full brunt of British law, as he committed his offence in London and not along the Ibadan-Ife Road. He is not fortunate like the Fulani kidnappers there who will not even be questioned by the police, let alone arrested and charged. The punishment he will get will deter anyone from doing likewise in future. I, however, also hope it serves as a warning to the high commission

[9] Our high commission needs to come up with a Citizens Charter that guarantees every passport application is addressed within two weeks and no one has to wait for more than a fortnight to get their document. The mission also has to make its offices more user-friendly with things like vending machines, play areas for kids, cafes for the hungry, etc. It does not even have wheelchairs and pram access. More importantly, the application process needs to be more electronic, so people do not have to come to London for passports. No one has to go to the TSO office in Norwich to collect their British passport. You apply through the post office and in a few weeks, your document arrives in the post

[10] John F Kennedy said: “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable.” If the Niger Delta had not been neglected, the youths there would not have taken up arms. Likewise, if the Nigerian high commission in London had been more responsive, Mr Apkovweta would not have to take the law into his hands. A word is enough from the wise!

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Written By Ayo Akinfe

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