BreakingNews 24/1/2014 - Bianca Ojukwu's Citizens Diplomacy Makes Things Work For Nigerians In Spain

[ Masterweb Reports: Uchendu Precious Onuoha reports ] –The one year period the once Nigerian/Miss continental most beautiful beauty pageant in the late 80’s and the widow of the late Biafran leader, Bianca Odinaka Ojukwu has piloted affairs as the Nigeria Ambassador to the kingdom of Spain has improved the lot of Nigerians living in Spain and has moved Nigerians in Spain forward. The beautiful Ambassador whom her charming beauty still remains even at her late forties always take me back to memory lane about remarks made about her in the book “Because I am Involved” by Emeka Ojukwu and one of her course mates in the University about her beauty.
 
 
Ojukwu said, “saying that Bianca is beautiful, is stating the obvious, and is just like one standing in front of the white house and say this building is tall”. One of her course mate in an interview with the press during her reign as beauty pageant expressed that,” he was not sure of graduating in the final year because of Bianca as he loses concentration whenever Bianca is in the class. That was back home then in Nigeria. Even today in Spain, the Spanish cannot hide their admiration on her beauty as my Spanish colleagues would always tell me “que guapa eran su embajadora” meaning, what a beauty is your ambassador! It is said that “character is beauty “. Her humane, clever, and simple nature caught my attention the first time I met her in her office in Madrid.
 
 
Before Ambassador Bianca’s arrival, the embassy and its activity seemed to be foreign to many Nigerian nationals in Spain, as it was not very responsive to the plight of Nigerian citizens. It appeared they were on a different mission other than for Nigerians in Spain. By then going to the embassy used to be a nightmare to many. The long waiting and impolite attitude of some of the officials would make one wonder the type of training and orientation they received for their job. It usually was a case of whom you know and man no man syndrome that used to prevail. According to the Ambassador who noticed that on arrival, commented during a meeting with our correspondent in Spain “The relationship between Nigerians and the embassy is that of acrimony and zero tolerance from Nigerians. But today, the case is different, the staff attitude towards Nigerians have improved as they have become responsive to serve Nigerians.
 
 
The Ambassador’s leadership has bridged the gap between the embassy and Nigerian Nationals. On inception, She went on to gather together under the umbrella of a united Nigeria as a hen would gather her chickens under her protective wings all the associations, churches and stake holders that make up the federation of Nigeria in the kingdom of Spain. She highlighted on the need for all to come on board and work as partners to move Nigerians in Spain forward. Whichever occasion she attends she has always urged Nigerians to be one another’s keeper, and always think home knowing that they are in a foreign land.
 
 
The writer, who has been privileged to interact closely with the embassy of recent, has realized that the ambassador is really poised to work for the welfare of Nigerian citizens in the kingdom of Spain. In one of the meetings with our correspondent Uchendu Precious Onuoha, she disclosed that the current group of ambassadors and diplomats came to have as their paramount priority the welfare of Nigerians. Saying that some citizens view the embassy just as a place to obtain passport documents. But the primary focus is to assure that our citizens abroad are well taken care of she emphasized.
 
 
This piece will not be complete without mentioning the areas in which Her Excellency has done very well especially with the help of, L.D.G. Gboko and Nze Nnamdi two of the dynamic seasoned diplomats at the embassy. There is a drastic change and improvement in the attitude and response of the embassy towards Nigerian citizens. The embassy has become more responsive to issues affecting Nigerians, having realized that they are here because of Nigerian citizens. The Nigerian embassy under the leadership of Her Excellency Bianca Ojukwu, has given a listening ear and shown concern to the plight of distressed Nigerian citizens here in Spain. Worthy of mention is the case of Ugochukwu who has languished in such a precarious situation for about three years in Madrid.
 
 
The writer drew the attention of the embassy to his predicament, and the embassy responded towards his plight and made all necessary efforts including undergoing the process of rigorous judicial process on his behalf with the Spanish authority as to obtain all the necessary clearance to warrant his deportation home. Finally, on August 22, 2013, Ugochukwu was flown home to Nigeria and is now under the custody of his family for rehabilitation. The ambassador, who feels deeply touched on the plight of such Nigerian citizens both in Spain and at home, has expressed her concern on the fate of deported Nigerians. Stating that they should not just be abandoned to rot away especially those that are distressed or has mental problems. She mentioned that they are trying to get agencies to take care of those deported for proper rehabilitation.
 
 
The attention of her Excellency was drawn to the maltreatment and torture of Nigerians on deportation by the Spanish police. The embassy responded towards that by following up the matter to locate the victim by making investigation up to Nigeria as to ascertain evidence to make claim against the Spanish authority on a particular incident that was reported happened on April 6, 2013 at Madrid Barajas airport.
 
 
On Jun 5, 2013 – Bilbao, Ada Ortuya a Nigerian lady was murdered by a Spanish Kung Fu martial artist. The embassy responded swiftly into the matter to ensure that justice is done. The Ambassador herself went to the scene of the incident like a Trojan leading a company of some embassy staff and Nigerian Nationals to ensure that justice is applied to the culprit, and secures adequate compensation for the girl’s family. And by so doing averted what would have led to a nation-wide demonstration and show down between the entire federation of Nigeria nationals in Spain and the Spanish government.
The Ambassador is handling the police character report issue which has been a bane to Nigerians living in Spain, as to alleviate the difficulties Nigerians go through to obtain that. In that respect, the embassy has made adequate arrangement to bring the police officials to Spain in due time for that purpose. And not only that the embassy is negotiating seriously with the Spanish authorities to approve for issuance of a letter of good conduct to Nigerians as an alternative to that.
 
 
On Jun 30, 2013 – Madrid Barajas airport, I was pleased to hear Prof. Malachy Okwueze who missed the Madrid - Lagos bound flight and it was the same day his visa expired. He expressed satisfaction on the positive response and assistance received on calling the embassy for help. He received a quick response from the embassy which helped to get his problem solved.
 
 
Early in the month of August, one self-acclaimed Nigerian Bishop here in Spain was deported by the Spanish police without due process. The embassy’s attention was drawn to the incident. And they waded into the matter, demanding that the Spanish authority should repatriate him back to Spain. And the Spanish government complied and brought him back to Spain. This was the first of its kind in the history of Nigerians living abroad not just in Spain, for a Nigerian to be deported and the embassy intervened for his repatriation. That was a very commendable act by well-meaning Nigerians, as that would help instill a measure of respect before the Spanish authorities who may think that Nigerians are sheep without a shepherd. And have been having a field day deporting Nigerians without any one giving a hoot.
 
 
Passport fees and some consular charges have been reduced for the benefit of the Nigerian citizens in the kingdom of Spain within the period Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu piloted affairs at the embassy. Nigerians in Spain are given a sense of belonging and identity. A measure of confidence and national consciousness has been evoked among fellow Nigerians. The writer as one can walk tall in the street of Madrid and can boldly say “I am a Nigerian. Gracias to Her Excellency Bianca Ojukwu and her crop of aides at the embassy. Indeed Bianca can make things work and is making it work in Spain.
 
 
Uchendu Precious
 
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