I was looking forward to being in Nigeria this weekend, writing a preview for the presidential elections at the end of the month. Not the way every Telegraph reader might want to spend their weekend, I grant you, but by foreign correspondents’ standards, it’s a Premier League fixture. The contest will decide who rules West Africa’s most important country, and in the wake of last year’s kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the wider world will be following it in a way they never used to. Sadly, if it’s on-the-ground reportage you want, don’t come to me. Or The Times or Channel 4 News. Or any of the 20-odd other British media outlets that have asked for press visas to cover the elections, and whose applications still languish in a pile at the Nigerian High Commission in London. (Fee £300, non-returnable.)
Nobody has actually been refused outright. But given that the process normally takes only a week, and given that my application went in two months ago, I’m beginning to think the Nigerian government doesn’t want me there. Or, indeed any of the other foreign hacks whose applications are still waiting other at Nigerian embassies around the world.
Have I written something to offend them? Much as it would be nice to think that I have upset the rich and powerful as a result of previous reporting trips to Nigeria, I don’t think it’s anything personal. Rather, it seems that elements in the government – either in the presidency or the security services – have decided that it would be best if the international media were kept at bay.