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EXCLUSIVE: “It’s sorted out”! Nigeria’s Wellington Jighere Set to Defend His Title as World Scrabble Champion after Visa Issues

IK Nwosu



Wellington Jighere after he won the Championship in 2015

Wellington Jighere after he won the Championship in 2015

All things being equal, the World Scrabble Champion, Wellington Jighere will depart Nigeria for France before the competition begins on Wednesday, August 31st at the Grand Palais, Lille.

Following the news that he and his team were denied visas from the French Embassy in Nigeria, BN contacted Jighere to find out what happened.

On Why they were Denied Visa

Wellington said, “it’s sorted out. They’ve contacted us that the visas will be ready by Monday,” he added.

Intervention of Mind Sports International (MSI) – Organisers of the Competition

He said that they intervened. In fact, their intervention is making it possible for him  to get to France.

On the Possibility of making it for the competition

“We will try to make it,” he said.

Wellington lamented the fact that there were no sponsorship, as at the time of our conversation. “We are only hoping for the best between now and then,” he said.

On Whether the Government intervened

“The Government has not done anything yet. We’ve been seeking for sponsorship from the private sector”.

However, there were reports that the visas were denied because Jighere and his team “did not show enough reason to be in France for the Championship”.

A comment by Sulaiman Garba Gora, who was in one of the photos in Jighere’s post, read:

Elie the unfortunate part of all this is the reason adduced for the Visa refusal, which is that the applicant did not show enough reason to be in France for the Championship. I had as far back as May when we applied spoke with officials of the French Embassy who assured me. Only one senior player had his visa approved with the same documents.
Visa normally takes 10 days but this took six weeks only to be denied when it is impossible to appeal.
Host need to do something

Reacting to the sad tale, the Tournament Director for this year’s championship, Ganesh Asirvatham, (before BN contacted Jighere), said:

Just to clarify, MSI in conjunction with the French Federation provided the necessary supporting document to ensure that the visa application process would be smooth and trouble free. Even now, officials from the French Federation are making last minute appeals to French embassy in Nigeria.

As you know the Embassy has complete prerogative in visa issuance and they have chosen to exercise that discretion. Rest assured that we are at MSI are devastated by this turn of events.

The participation of the Nigerian contingent is crucial to the success of this event. The strength and depth that the team possess is unmatched and certainly diminishes the playing field. We’re still hoping that our last minute intervention will bear fruit. Please don’t give up yet my fellow brethren.

We hope Jighere gets the opportunity to defend his title.


  1. Kosi

    August 27, 2016 at 3:32 am

    The power of social media.

    • Delta geh

      August 27, 2016 at 3:51 am

      Exactly what I was thinking

    • shield

      August 29, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Azzin ehn. Thank God for SM! Opening yansh-es and evil deeds to public knowledge.

  2. Amaa

    August 27, 2016 at 3:52 am

    Walahai if I am this man I wont go what rubbish .What other reason do you want a WORLD CHAMPION is going to defend his title . The arrogance of the French embassy . Thank God for Social Media. and the Minister of Foreign affairs wont do jack

  3. Anon

    August 27, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Hard for a working professional to get a visa but they stay letting in runs girls and yahoo boys. Like someone said “if only stolen funds had to go through tough visa demands and interrogation to travel abroad and enter foreign accounts”

  4. Rekiya

    August 27, 2016 at 5:39 am

    He has a nice smile?

  5. mee

    August 27, 2016 at 6:12 am

    I’ve never seen a more hopeless embassy as the french one honestly.

  6. nwa nna

    August 27, 2016 at 11:11 am

    What exactly is the role of the FGN when it comes to supporting our homegrown talents? I’m asking because he said that they got absolutely zero support from the FGN and have sort sponsorship from the private sector instead.
    For crying out loud, he’s the reigning world scrabble champion and yet the FGN couldn’t step in to intercede with the French embassy regarding their visa denial?!

    • Kkay

      August 27, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      @ Nwa nna, when has the FG ever done anything for you/citizens./taxpayers….. from childhood to date? Not even the basic things like good roads, water and power supply, healthcare…..(fill in the blank spaces)
      The government officials & politicians are there to LOOT!


    August 27, 2016 at 11:16 am

    dts cool

  8. Mywifeisfiiiiiiine

    August 27, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Thank you BN for reaching out to him, you guys rock!

  9. Mabel

    August 27, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    The French embassy acting like any right minded person would want to run off in their country in these times. Some of us are not even that keen on visiting as a tourist much less living.

  10. Ola

    August 27, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I think their denial didn’t have much to do with the champion himself but with the rest of the team. I remember how some athletes from certain countries (not Nigeria) went missing during/after the London Olympics.
    I’m glad it’s been resolved and I pray he wins this tournament.

    • Anti Ola's Comment

      August 27, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      In London yes, a city that treats every single person like a citizen which is why the entire Europe has decended upon the place and why the British voted for Brexit because they were tired of the entire world living in their country. I don’t quite think that people have the same sentiments about France a country where they are clearly racist and even hate the Brits talk less of Nigerians from Africa. I mean who would want to live in a country where women can’t even wear a one piece suit on the beach! Secondly, if Jighere was so desperate to live abroad why didn’t he ‘go missing’ in Australia where he won the title last year in 2015? I mean Australia is an English speaking country with much better weather than French speaking France. It’s France of all places the team would want to abscond to abi? Ode!

    • ola

      August 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Have you ever traveled to France before….you just one of those people that try to be British even more than the Queen……you are not European and you sit down here typing about how the French hate the British,do you think the British people will choose you over there French neighbors?

  11. Naijatalk

    August 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Happy for you, now please go for the championship (or like our president would say, go for Gold!)


    August 27, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    They finally grow some backbone. Yeye French embassy. I hope the Nigerian embassy in Frence or elsewhere are listening.

  13. aproko

    August 28, 2016 at 10:29 am

    French Embassy – easily the worst embassy ever.

  14. ola

    August 28, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    lol… from the comments here i can see the french embassy has denied so many people….lol na one time dem give me oooooo.

  15. Hannatu

    August 30, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Does this government have something against sports or against the youth? I cannot understand this, especially considering how our Olympic team fared lately. Despicable that the Nigerian government would sit back and accept this and that it would not support Wellington when he has, unlike thousands of others, brought good name to the country abroad. Shame! Shame! Shame!

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