Morning sir, please can you take me to Murtala Muhammed ‘Road’ in Ikoyi. I was trying to get a motor bike popularly called okada used for transport in Lagos and most parts of Nigeria to take me to the Equatorial Guinean Embassy in Ikoyi. The man, did not bother to stop. He just responded that he did not know the place. Several other okadas said the same thing when I asked of the same address.
At a point, I almost entertained the thought of giving up but I decided to call their office in Abuja to verify if actually there is an address in Lagos or probably it was an address they formally used in Lagos before moving to Abuja. A lady responded and told me the address was actually Murtala Muhammed Drive and that it was formally called Bank Road. On heating Bank Road, the elderly okada rider I got knew exactly where the Embassy was and he got me there in minutes.
On arrival, being tensed up of not knowing if they would give me a positive response or not as regards my request for a tourist visa, I was asked to come in and speak with the Consular General since according to the receptionist, he would give me the requirements since they don’t have tourists coming often. It was at the point of entering the premises that the security noticed I was on shorts and he told me I cannot go into the premises dressed the way I was. He said their office policy does not allow that!
Well, as at that time, I had already lingered at the gate of the Embassy for almost 30 minutes. I was asked to wait as they were having a meeting involving all the staff of the establishment. I wished the guy had noticed and told me to go and change earlier. In any case, I went down to a popular Obalende which was a 100 naira bike to the popular hub on Lagos Island where one can get vehicles going to different places in Lagos. On arrival, I asked a hawker where I could buy a pair of trouser and he pointed towards a shop close by. I went there and got one and rushed back. Normally, I would have taken my time to find a good one but I did not care. I only wanted to see the Consular General, have him give me visa and tell me safe journey to Malabo.
I was eventually allowed in and I was requested to fill out a visitor’s form which after which filling, I was asked to wait. Meanwhile, the waiting was becoming so boring as the Embassy did not allow visa applicants or people who come for inquiries to come in with their mobile phones but allowed other devices like laptops and camera. (I had both in my bag and the security guy did not complain). Twenty minutes into waiting, an average heighted man in a blue traditionally made regalia otherwise called ‘Senegalese’ in Nigeria quietly walked out and straight out of the building. He had a very large tobacco pipe in his mouth and made his face look somehow important. He said something that sounded like hi to some of us seated and waiting for him and around five of us or so of us there responded hi & morning sir too while he walked straight to his car. The receptionist told us he was headed out for a meeting and would be back shortly.
I decided to take a little walk in the office and lo and behold, the picture of the same consular general with his big tobacco in his mouth. His name is or ‘his names are’ like many Nigerians say, read like: Emmanuel Medang Nseng Efa. Funny enough, there is something about this his name and most people from his country. First, they all ended with ng – for example bang, fang, tang. I also recall the President of Equatorial Guinea has an ‘ang’ in his name: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. In any case, you can check out the name of your friends in that country to see if there is correlation. The other thing again is the very long names they use – their president also has four! The TV was showing the AsongaTV station of Equatorial Guinea. Purely Spanish! At a point, the embassy staff were telling stories of snakes sneaking into the building and into the toilets of their building (Try and avoid the toilets if you can). None of those mattered to me as I just wanted to talk to the Consular General. Something else happened there that revealed the attitude of the boss. A letter arrived their office for the Consular General from the US Embassy which was not quite far from there. The receptionist told her colleague who picked the letter that he could have returned the letter to the person who delivered it as the Consular General would neither accept the letter nor honor the invitation as it was not addressed in his name. With all these, I was already trying to condition my mind on the type of discussion we would have eventually if I get to see him.
We all waited another twenty minutes or so and it occurred to me it was my birthday, so I had to excuse myself to go out and see my phone as friends and loved ones had been sending me messages on social media and calling my telephone. I went out to find an local food joint in the next compound where I could find something to eat and at the same time, went through the numerous messages that friends had sent me that day. After like twenty something minutes or so of whiling away time I called the Receptionist who told me the Consular was not yet back yet. It was then my friend Tope called me to extend his birthday wishes. He told me he just came out of the exams hall to see a message from my wife reminding him it was my birthday. Luckily, he was not very far from where I was so I asked him to come over to join me.
Getting back to the Embassy after another twenty minutes, I noticed that the Consular’s jeep was parked right in front of the building. I went straight to the receptionist who told me the same old story – go and sit down and wait, he has your papers and he will call you soon. I waited for almost another one hour before Tope arrived. We both waited for more than another one hour before the lady agreed to give my visitors form to another lady consular officer who would in turn deliver the form to the boss.
The lady called me in for an interview. She started by asking me why I wanted to visit their country. I told her am a tourist and a travel blogger – I shared some stories of some of my trips and my experiences travelling. She was impressed after all and told me she would get the Consular General to talk to me in a few minutes’ time. One thing in our conversation led to another and I mentioned that it was my birthday! I noticed a renewed determination to ensure I do not just get to see the boss but that I also get the visa eventually. She advised me to sound convincing when I talk with the boss and I agreed. I went back to the general waiting area.
Some fifteen minutes later, I noticed the receptionist and the consular officer I had spoken to speaking behind the door in low tones. I was perturbed. Was it a bad news or something else? In any case, after like a very long 2 minutes of chat, the receptionist called and showed me the visitors note I had given her with a boldly stamped CANCELLED. He told me the consular officer said they have not started issuing tourist visas but they will call me when they start. I thanked her. She also advised I could travel by getting someone from Equatorial Guinea to get me a letter of invitation – and a well authenticated letter from the Ministry of Security in Equatorial Guinea.
I was at least grateful to them I was not asked to pay any visa fees or so before breaking the bad news.
Now for those of you who want to travel there from Lagos, here are some of the things you need to know and have:
- Address (Lagos): 7 Murtala Mohammed Way, Ikoyi, Lagos Nigeria. Phone: +234 1 453 5795
- You need a letter of invitation from someone living in the country. The letter will be authenticated by the Ministry of Security
- A visa fee of Seventy Thousand Naira if you want to pick up the visa same day or Fifty Five Thousand Naira if you want the visa in a weeks’ time
- You must be well dressed before you are given access into the premises.
- You must come between 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
- Visa application that will be provided at the embassy
- Recent passport sized photograph with white background
- A passport with more than 6 months validity
- Photocopies of international passport data page
- Flight itinerary
- Yellow card
The embassy may request for additional information depending on your purpose of travelling.