Re: Hashtag #IAmANigerianNotACriminal – Sunday Akoji

“We have an image problem abroad and we are on our way to salvage that.”~ President Muhammadu Buhari, 2016

Sometime in December, 2015 I went to the ticketing office of a Travel agent in Abuja to procure a ticket from Abuja to Ottawa in Canada. The Sales Officer checked his system for available flight and told me it will cost N387,000 only. I brought out my debit card to make the payment, but he said I have to pay cash because his POS is not working.

I quickly dashed to the bank to withdraw the money, came back and made the payment. He printed my booking confirmation put it in an envelop and handed it over to me and I zoomed off.

On 25th of December at 1 pm in the afternoon we jetted out of Naija and arrived Toronto Pearson International Airport on 26th at about 11 am in the morning, after 4 hours layover in Cairo, Egypt.

At passport/boarder control the curse of travelling with a Green passport became manifest from the interrogation by immigration officials. It was something out of the planet. It was as if everyone travelling with the Green passport had the intention of not returning. Have you ever seen a situation where a passenger shred his passport and flushed the useless document down the toilet and raised his hands up immediately he exited the aircraft and declared himself as a refugee seeking asylum because his life is at risk if he goes back to his country origin?I felt so sad for two citizens of Nigeria who were asked to step aside after their passports was inspected. The officials were not convinced that they are the real owner of the travel documents. They were grilled for about an hour after which they were allowed in. One of the guys had his passport since 2012 and apparently a four year old picture will not look exactly like the owner if he decided to grow beards. In fact if they had the sample of their DNA on file they would have requested for a DNA test to confirm their identity. One of them even missed his connection flight to Edmonton because of that incident and had to pay out of his pocket for the next available flight. Imagine if you were in his shoes?

Sorry I digressed. Now let me get back to the koko of the gist. I travelled to the United States of America from Canada to take care of some business. Somewhere along the line, on my itinerary is a trip to Mexico and my return ticket to Nigeria was for Monday 10th of February from Toronto. I needed to open the ticket to avoid a No-Show fine whenever I decided to travel.

I logged into the website of the airline, punched in my Reference number and my details popped out. Something caught my attention on my laptop screen. The total amount Ipaid in Naira for the ticket was N322,000 only.

You know what that mean? The guy I bought the tickets from collected N387,000 from me. Dude swindled me of a whopping N65,000!!!!!Imagine the number of people that must have fallen victims to this racket and other fraudsters out to milk people?

I cannot help but agree with President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria as a country has an image problem not only abroad but at home. An old woman usually get uncomfortable whenever dry bones are mentioned because she knows that she is at the departure lounge. So instead of attempting to break the Internet with a worthless hashtag over what is universally acknowledged as the truth, we should all join hands with the government and salvage our credibility issues.



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