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No. 145: A Few People Can Make Life NEEDLESSLY Miserable for Many, IF Not Called to Order (Case Study: My Experiences at the Nigeria-Benin Republic Seme Border)

[NB: This issue of my newsletter is a public service edition.] Last Saturday a.m (7th June 2014), I published a blog about my near 12 hour traffic jam ordeal coming from Seme border to Mile 2 the day before (i.e Friday).

What I did not mention was that before that, I’d had unpleasant money-related “disagreements” with BOTH Beninese and Nigerian officials in crossing the border posts.

I Share My Experiences Below, to Warn Intending Travellers About What to Expect….
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Click now to view the latest issue of Tayo Solagbade's Public Speaking IDEAS page

Publication: Weekly Public Speaking IDEAS Newsletter

Date: Monday 9th June 2014

No:145

Title: A Few People Can Make Life NEEDLESSLY Miserable for Many, IF Not Called to Order (Case Study: My Experiences at the Nigeria-Benin Republic Seme Border)

Author & Publisher: Tayo K. Solagbade [Tel: +234-803-302-1263 (in Nigeria) or +229-66-122-136 (in Benin Republic) ]

Blog URL: http://www.tayosolagbade.com/sdnuggets

Archive (E-mail version started 14th May 2012): Click here to view

Archive (Blog version started 24th September 2011): Click here


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NB: This newsletter is published every Monday. Point your browser to www.tayosolagbade.com/sdnuggets to read at least ONE new post added to my SD Nuggets blog on a different category from Tuesday till Saturday (sometimes even Sundays) in line with this publishing schedule :-)

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IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS newsletter is published online on the “reincarnated” version of my Self-Development (SD) Nuggets blog. I continue to put finishing touches to the content. If you encounter ANY bad/dead links, and you can spare the time, email it to me via tayo at tksola dot com. Thanks in advance :-)

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No. 145: A Few People Can Make Life NEEDLESSLY Miserable for Many, IF Not Called to Order (Case Study: My Experiences at the Nigeria-Benin Republic Seme Border)

[NB: This issue of my newsletter is a public service edition.] Last Saturday a.m (7th June 2014), I published a blog about my near 12 hour traffic jam ordeal coming from Seme border to Mile 2 the day before (i.e Friday).

What I did not mention was that before that, I’d had unpleasant money-related “disagreements” with BOTH Beninese and Nigerian officials in crossing the border posts.

I Share My Experiences Below, to Warn Intending Travellers About What to Expect….

For over a year, since 1st April 2013, when I relocated to Benin, I’d crossed the border paying N200 at the Benin end to have my passport stamped, and N100 at the Nigerian end.

Yet a few weeks ago – on Sunday 25th May 2014 to be specific – the Beninese official responsible for stamping passports out told me to pay N500!

Surprised, I asked why. He said “C’est comme ça!” When I insisted that I’d always paid N200, he flung my passport at me and bluntly told me if I wanted I could leave without stamping my passport.

He then proceed to pointedly ignore me as I called out to him to at least tell me why.

Another Nigerian I met there lashed out verbally at him as he collected his stamped passport, saying “God will take that money back from you!”

I walked over to 2 armed uniformed officers next to the post, who looked senior to him and complained. They laughed in my face and told me to do whatever the other man told me.

One of them said today, you pay N500, but tomorrow we may ask you to go through without paying anything.

When I told him it made no sense, he angrily asked to move away from their end.

I called a senior officer I knew worked at the Nigerian embassy (in Cotonou) on his mobile line to protest about the treatment I was getting.

He sympathised with me, saying “It’s a pity they are doing that. It’s not supposed to happen.”

At that point I realised I had no choice but to pay up. So I did, making my displeasure clear from the way I snatched my stamped passport from the Beninese officer when he was done.

Still fuming, I arrived at the Nigerian end, and promptly expressed outrage at what had happened to me. The officer there casually told me to go to the Commissaire, if I felt that aggrieved.

Then he held out his hand and said “N100”.

That was what I’d always paid

(NB: It is instructive to note, that I’ve been told by embassy personnel and a lawyer client/friend that we are NOT even supposed to pay anything to get our passports stamped!)

I told myself, at least things were still normal at our end. As for going to the Beninese Commissaire, I decided I did not have the time to spare, since I was running late.

On my return from Nigeria, I got my passport stamped without eventualities. And I paid the normal N100 at the Nigerian end, and N200 at the Benin end.

I told the officials at the Benin check in post about the conduct of their colleague on the day I left the country. The lady officer apologised soberly to me, and asked me to forget it.

So I put it behind me.

But today, the nonsense not only came back, but it also began MUCH earlier – and with extra!

It began even before I got to the passport check-out post…

This was right at the first check point. The Beninese police officer after checking and seeing my passport was in order, asked me for money. I smiling told him I had nothing to give him.

He looked me over, and pointed to my travel bag saying he wanted to see its contents. I opened it up, and he checked. Finding nothing, he indicated my backpack. Same thing. Nothing.

Then he took my “Small Notebook Speaker” box and asked for the receipt.

I laughed in his face and old him he knew quite well that I did not need to carry a receipt for such an item on me.

His countenance showed he did not like my smart ass attitude of having an answer for everything he’d said to me. You see, even as we spoke, I could see my fellow country men being “shaken down” by his colleagues.

And in most cases those ones readily parted with as much as N500, at the slightest request. Now, one would imagine that was either because they were not well informed of their rights, or their travel documents were not in order.

But I actually saw well dressed, well spoken and reasonably schooled people giving in to the “harassment”.

Basically, the mentality of many Nigerians is that they are too busy to let a demand for a few hundred nairas DELAY them.

And so, those intending to get money off them simply play on that mentality.

Hold them back for the flimsiest of reasons, and even when they know they are not at fault, they’ll give you more or less what you ask.

Back to my uniformed friend. After I told him I did not need to show a receipt for my speakers, he went further to say “Now you’ll also have to produce a receipt for the laptop in your backpack”.

Once again, I made a point of laughing. Then I asked him if he would have asked me for a laptop receipt if I’d bought it online using my debit card. He looked at me in annoyance – I sensed he did not even understand what I’d said, but he knew it was something he could not contest.

By this time I was losing my patience. I told him I was going to call a senior officer at the Nigerian Embassy, where I was well known to tell him what I was being subjected to at the border.

As I made to pull out my mobile phone from my pockets, he angrily pushed my hand away, and said “This is my post. You cannot make a phone call here.”

That was of course not true…

But this guy carried a rifle that looked well maintained, compared to those I’d seen with his counterparts in Nigeria. So, I had the feeling it worked quite well.

Since he was this crooked already, I realised desperation could make him resort to doing something crazy.

He said “Look, it’s the way you talk that determines how I feel about letting you go. “

Then he smiled…as if to defuse the tension between us. He knew I was not going to give in.

So I smiled back, and asked him what he wanted to do…:-))

Seconds later, he handed me the speaker and I tapped him on the shoulder saying “A la prochaine mon frère!” (See you another time my brother!).

Getting to the Beninese Passport Stamping Out Post…

The same funny character from few weeks back, who’d asked for N500, was there. And he took one look at my passport and said “N500”.

I was expecting no less.

Paying up, I walked down to the Nigerian immigration stamp out section.

As the uniformed immigration officer recorded my passport details, he asked “How are you Sir?”

Before I could stop myself, my frustration came to the surface, and I said “Actually, I’m not fine at all!”

He looked up in surprise at me and asked what the problem was. I told him what I’d gone through at the Benin end.

Then I asked him why they could not stop their French speaking colleagues from subjecting law abiding Nigerian travellers to such harassment daily.

He shook his head sympathetically, and said “If you feel that strongly about it, just go to their Commissaire over there (pointing to the left of where I stood), and make a formal report.

Then he said “N200”. I felt like someone poured a bucket of cold water on my head.

I said “N200? But I always pay N100 at this end…”

He replied simply by stretching out his hand and saying “N200”.

Sighing, I gave him the money. Then I made to walk out, only to be called by anther officer seated just before the exit. He had a large register opened in front of him, into which passport details were entered.

He took my passport and said “N200”.

This time I almost exploded. I said “What this N200 for again? I’ve never paid twice before, in over a year of stamping out at this end! Can you please explain to me why I have to pay again?”

As soon as I said this, he looked me over and said “Take. It’s okay. You can go.”

I said “Look. I don’t mind paying, but I just want to know what I am paying for, because it’s never happened before. Can’t you just let us know what to expect?

Is there not some standard we can work with?”

Now impatient, he replied “Look I said if you don’t want to pay, just go with your trouble. Haba!”

As he said this, I heard another man who just came in telling the officer I was earlier with “No. How can I pay N500 to stamp my passport? What for?

I’m coming all the way from Cote D’Ivoire. You don’t even know how much money I have on me. How can you just tell me to pay such an amount. I’ve never paid such before, and I am not going to pay it today!” he finished, fuming.

And so I left, and soon arrived at the motor park, where I joined a Taxi, which after getting 2 other passengers took off for Lagos around 5.00 p.m.

If you think my ordeal ended there, think again.

I did not get to my home until well after midnight. Click here to read full details of how we got stuck in a crazy traffic jam for over 10 hours.

Why I Choose to Write About My Seme Border Experiences…

My purpose is simple. If what I continue to experience along with other travellers on both sides of the Nigeria-Benin border is in line with official procedures, announcing it here should bother no one.

However, I have also travelled across the Aflao border to Ghana, from Nigeria, just as I have crossed the Nigerian-Cameroon border in the past. At no time did I make ANY of my trips without valid papers. Yet, during my trips I never had an experience of that sort with ANYONE – uniformed or otherwise.

If what’s going on there is however NOT supposed to happen, my hope is that highlighting it like I’ve done here can bring it to the attention of those who can do something about it.

It’s possible writing about all this can get me some negative attention from those I talk about…and/or “others”…

The truth is however that I fear no one and nothing – except my Creator.

So, anyone who has a problem with my truth telling can take ANY action s/he pleases.

I am 100% certain that nothing the Creator has not consented to, can happen to me as I do his will.

Period.

It’s So Sad That Nigerians, and Some Africans Persist In Unedifying Acts

Interestingly, one of the Beninese officers in uniform at the border last year asked me if I was “Jesus Christ” when he tried to make me pay more than N200 to “stamp in”, and I asked why.

He said I was acting as if I did not know that it happened all over Africa!

Arm twisting others to get money, in what has become a vicious cycle, is more or less a way of life in Nigeria.

Some of Nigeria’s neighbours who are not disciplined, “catch the bug” from years of prolonged contact.

That appears to be what’s happening at Seme border. The Beninese guys there, in my opinion have learnt bad habits from their Nigerian counterparts. Contact with them can give a VERY wrong impression about what people in Benin Republic are really like. 

You see, I’ve lived in Benin Republic for over a year now. They are not perfect, but random daylight harassment and extortion does NOT happen in that country. I live AMONGST these people, and I find them VERY humane – a huge contrast to Nigerians!

In this regard, it might also interest you to know that the Beninese officials do NOT subject, Beninese citizens (their people) who cross the border to the treatment they give to Nigerians!

As you arrive at their post, if they are not sure of your nationality, they start by asking “Vous êtes Beninois?” Your response then determines how you are “treated”.

I’ve seen this many times. They apparently have taken a cue from the way our own officials extort money from us, before we get to them.

Plus, many Nigerians are often so ready to just “pay” when asked, without asking questions!

Apart from the needless daily abuse they subject people to, their actions also stifle trade and commerce…

And that’s having serious negative effects on regional economic development.

I’ll end by stating the obvious fact, that if leaders of both countries really want faster progress, they will take pains to eliminate the nonsense happening at the Seme border immediately!

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Mobile: +234-803-302-1263 (in Nigeria) or +229-66-122-136 (in Benin Republic)

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Tayo K. Solagbade is a Location Independent Performance Improvement Specialist and Multipreneur (i.e. a highly versatile/multi-skilled entrepreneur), with a bias for delivering Best Practice solutions to

Farm Businesses and others.

Since 2002, he has earned multiple streams of income providing individuals and organisations with personal development training and coaching, custom MS Excel-VB solutions, web marketing systems/web hosting,

freelance writing services, and best practice extension support services (for farm business owners).

Tayo is the author of the Self-Development (SD) Bible™ and the popular Livestock Feed Formulation Handbook. He is also the developer of its accompanying Excel-VB driven Ration Formulator™ and the Poultry Farm Manager™ software.

He has delivered talks/papers to audiences in various groups and organisations, including the Centre for Management Development, University of Lagos, Christ Baptist Church, Volunteer Corps, Tantalisers Fast Foods

and others.

In May 2012 he was the Guest Speaker at the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development’s Annual Semester Entrepreneurial Lecture at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos.

On 1st April 2013, Tayo (who reads, write and speaks the French language) relocated to Cotonou, Benin Republic to begin slowly traveling across the West African region.

His key purpose is to deliver talks, seminars

and workshops on his key areas of focus and interest to interested audiences (Email tayo at tksola dot com for details).

When he’s not amazing clients with his superhuman skills (wink), Tayo works as the creative force behind his Daily Self-Development Nuggets blog – on which he also publishes his Weekly Public Speaking IDEAS

newsletter(which he uses to promote Burt Dubin’s Public Speaking Mentoring service to experts working across the African continent).

You can connect with him on Twitter @tksola.com and Facebook.

Visit Tayo Solagbade Dot Com, to download over over 10 performance improvement resources to boost your personal and work related productivity.

====
[IMPORTANT NOTE:====

On 4th May 2014, Tayo’s 9 year old domain (Spontaneousdevelopment dot com), which hosted his website, was taken over by Aplus.net.

Within a few days however, Tayo used his advanced self-taught web development skills to build a SUPERIOR “reincarnation” of it the website http://www.tayosolagbade.com.

But updates are still ongoing to URLs bearing the old domain name in most of the over 1,000 web pages, and blog posts

he’s published.

If you experience any difficulties finding a page or document, email Tayo at tksola dot com.

Click “Tayo, What Happened to SpontaneousDevelopmentDotCom ?” to read a detailed narrative about how the above event occurred :-))

Here’s an article Tayo wrote, to inspire others to defy adversity, and bounce back to even greater reckoning at what they do EVERY time:

And he wrote the one below, to explain why losing a domain name, no matter how old NO LONGER determines your online success or otherwise:

A Proven Strategy to Find Profitable Buyers Regardless of Your Domain Name

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“Tayo, I honestly believe you are one of those who will succeed at anything he does. Your commitment and effort has been outstanding….Thanks for all your hard work since I’ve been here – you will be sorely missed. I don’t need to wish you good luck, you have the ability to make your own luck. – Andy”(R. Jones)*

*Operations Manager, Guinness Nigeria Plc Benin Brewery, December 2001 (Handwritten comments in farewell/xmas cards sent to Tayo Solagbade following his resignation to start his own business).

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SD Nuggets Blog

New posts from last week that may interest you! *
Public Speaking[Monday]:

Entrepreneurship[Tuesday]:

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Entrepreneurship[Thursday]:

General [Friday]:

Writing/Blogging/Entrepreneurship [Saturday]:

 
 
 

 

[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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Tayo K. Solagbade*
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*Best Practice Farm Business Support Specialist
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