Monday, June 30, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Immigrations/Passport control office
I'm at the passport control office to get the new e-passport. Prior to now, I have surfed the web and located the official site for immigrations. It adumbrates the procedure to obtain one and the costing fee. A section of the site shows that one eventually needs make reference to an immigrations officer and so I decide to work with them from scratch. I call a contact in one of the nearby offices. She tells me she's been promoted and transferred to another state and then does me the favour of linking me with her colleague that still works in the stated office.
On getting there, I meet an intidimating spectacle of queues and crowds of people at the entrance. In no time, a lady officer walks up to me, asking what I've come to do.
Me: "I need to get an e-passport."
Lady officer: "Okay, I could do it for you. You'll need two passport photographs ..."
Me: "Okay. How much would it cost?"
Lady: looks around cautiously as if she's being watched and then whispers, "20,000."
Hmmm! I thank her and get her phone number, assuring her that I would call when I was ready. And with that, she hurries back in. I proceed to make my way though the crowd as I remember that I have been told to see someone inside. So I make my way to the bouncer at the gate, and ask for *M. Y. Musa. The mention of that name grants me VIP access and I am ushered into his office. Apparently, he is the CSI. I briefly state my mission and sender.
CSI: "It will cost you 18,000."
So I pay, fill out the forms and ask for a proof of payment. He gives me his word and his phone number. That is my receipt. I'm instructed to return on Monday morning to complete the process. Unavoidably absent on Monday, I return on Tuesday morning to get my picture taken, scanned and uploaded online. The CSI is absent so I have to go unaccompanied/manual this time. Groan! I find my name on the posted list, pick up my file and join the queue as the 175th person. It's my turn to watch as people with links and contacts now receive VIP access. So I open the file with my name on it to view the contents and what do I find?
- A bank draft stating the actual cost of the passport i. e. 8,750
- An affidavit sworn in my name, declaring my date and place of birth
- A letter from a guarantor that promised to "sponsor my trip to the UK." signed and stamped by the Federal High Court
Surprised and scared, I lift my gaze to meet my seat patners' and notice the same mixed reactions going on on their faces. I wait for two hours and a half before my number is called and the exercise is carried out. I am given a slip on which the passport collection date is indicated for the next nine days. But that's too far away! I need the passport sooner and do not hesitate to think loudly in the CSI's office.
CSI: "Nine days? How much did you pay?"
CSI: "Ah! That's why now. You haven't paid for express. Pay 2,000 and collect your passport tomorrow."
Two thousand naira will move my passport from the delay stack to the prompt stack. I'm weak. I pay.
...To be Continued
*Real name changed
Coincidentally or otherwise, I still get that feeling. This time it has little or nothing to do with my netizenship but my citizenship: my being a Nigerian. In recent times, as my awareness increased by knowledge I started keeping a mental checklist of tasks and expectations for my country and more often than not, UNFULFILLMENT revisits me. I've grown to be bothered and have stopped wondering why I haven't escaped to foreign shores.
My country's server is down. Administrators needed urgently!
Read on, and feel free to share your experiences as well. Look out for subsequent 'chapters'.