More than 200 Nigerians, many in their finest business or traditional dress, waited anxiously outside the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC, USA hoping to be permitted entrance to the only event organized for the Nigerian diaspora.
The event was part of President Buhari’s official state visit to the United States and was held on Tuesday, July 20th from 6 to 8 pm at the Nigerian Embassy to the United States. The evening included a Town Hall for Nigerians to interact with President Buhari and a “Meet and Greet” for young Nigerian professionals.
As the desperate crowd began to swell, many Nigerians demanded explanations from embassy officials and secret service agents at the gate. One special agent told a SaharaReporters correspondent that “all I know is we can’t let anyone in right now.”
As SaharaReporters began interviewing members of the crowd, it became obvious that Nigerian embassy officials were discriminating against certain people and giving entrance to others.
“We are friends with the Principal Secretary, he will be coming to get us,” said one man and his family when a SaharaReporters correspondent asked him whether he would gain entrance. The man refused to give the name of which Principal Secretary he was referring to when he noticed the “SaharaReporters” ID badge. A few moments later members of security escorted the well-connected man through the gate and into the event.
One member of the Nigerian diaspora told SaharaReporters that “look you must see! This is a form of corruption! All those people in there are powerful people! Only the powerful people were let through the gate.”
Toward the front of the crowd was Miss Nigeria America contestant who complained to SaharaReporters that “it was very unfair to do this” to her and the crowd. The Miss Nigeria America contestant had left a few minutes later, but it is not known whether she was given admittance.
Many of those gathered at the Nigerian embassy gate had their official invitations but were still denied, including members of the SaharaReporters team. Several Nigerians desperately held their fancy invitations into the air, calling out to any official-looking person at the gate.
“I don’t understand, I am here, and they gave me my invitation,” one man told SaharaReporters while holding his fancy green invitation card.
Even members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) USA Committee, dressed in traditional wear with APC logos, were not spared embarrassment. Some of these members expressed disappointment with not being able to meet President Buhari or even be allowed to attend the posh events.