The Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, says the consulate is operating above capacity especially in passport service delivery.
Okoyen said that although the situation was an indication of growing public confidence in the office, it had been a major challenge.
Okoyen said that although the situation was an indication of growing public confidence in the office, it had been a major challenge. He explained that the staff and facilities of the consulate were overstretched by the deluge of applications, many by Nigerians from other consular jurisdictions.
“Nigeria has three consulates in the United States: one here in New York, one in Atlanta and the third at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington.
“The New York consulate has 20 states under its jurisdiction; Atlanta serves at least 15 and Washington has no fewer than 15 states under it.
“We handle more states, and yet most applicants in other jurisdictions prefer coming to New York, probably because of our services – which shows we are doing well.
“But it comes with huge challenges, especially the undue pressure it puts on our staff and facilities,” he said. The complaints about alleged slow service delivery, systems breakdown, shortage of passport booklets and negative staff attitude are common among applicants at the consulate. But Okoyen pointed out that the applicants were part of the problem, with their impatience and fire-brigade approach in seeking passport and visa renewal.
“Passports are supposed to be renewed six months before expiration, but most applicants come here within a few days to their dates of travel.
“We work here according to plans, and since we cannot reject them, we have to go out of our way to accommodate them. “This is what results in the shortage of materials and systems breakdown experienced here sometimes. “Yet, most applicants refuse to understand and cooperate with us, and they feel they can just vent their anger any time.
“But we have to be patient with them and deal with them in a friendly manner,” he said. The CG, however, said the challenges were being addressed through public enlightenment and facility upgrade. Okoyen listed other challenges facing the consulate to include lack of a government central identity database and bureaucratic bottlenecks in information sharing with relevant government agencies in Nigeria.