How To Do It Yourself: The New Nigerian e-Passport Part I | by literary agent Tn Odu | Phantom House Books

Posted: May 9, 2014 in Uncategorized
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My Experience at the New Nigerian Immigration Service (NIMS)
This is a surprisingly shocking revelation of my personal experience at the hands of Nigeria’s New Immigration System. It was not too long ago that one could ‘buy’ himself a Nigerian nationality. A few bucks and a piece of paper was all it took, to be sincere. Now, however, it is a wholly different experience.
First of all, I must explicate my not so sincere an intention to really scrutinize the new system because as we all know Nigerians have promised the world a lot of things, and in that endless list of promises is the battle against fraud and corruption; hitherto the notoriety of having the world’s largest count of internet fraudsters in one geographical state!
So after filling out the new online application for a Nigerian passport and paying for that application via a debit card, I stumble into the new Ikeja Office at Alausa with a deliberately recreated account of myself! I was of the opinion if the system was still as bad as it was ( that hour long documentary by the BBC of how easy it was to procure a Nigerian passport), it was more than certain this too would slip their notice.
So I did it. But after an hour passed, sitting under the stifling humid air outside the NIMs office waiting for someone to attend to me, it slowly dawned on me to ask the PRO what in the world was going on? Or causing all the delay?Nigerians and their inefficiency! Or that was what I thought.
A boy too young to be a man sits beside me. Or was he a man so young he could pass for a boy? Whatever the case, he was the first to get the gavel. To my amazement I watched him defend himself to a growing crowd of officers. But in the end, the end of very a lengthy cross-examination, this young man is ‘denied’ a Nigerian passport! Note the transitive verb ‘deny’ which means to refuse a request, to refuse to let somebody have or do something, is used.
To my surprise, that was not to be the end of my experience.
Right from the office of the PRO, an officer basically hands me over to the SC, which in some enigmatic way must have to stood for Assistant to the Passport Control Officer (I’d rather you not ask me how), and then they bounce me about the entire building for a while. A time long enough to exhaust a whole day, to my chagrin, but in the end lead me into a very small room to have my picture taken! And now, that’s when the other drama happens. An elderly woman too old to mother a baby is ushered in line to have her baby’s picture taken! Only to face a barrage of anti-trafficking questions after the baby’s picture and details are adroitly recorded.
Are you the mother? Then why is your photo not in this application ma’am? Where is the mother? Who is the guardian? Do have any form of identity on you? Let us have the baby’s details taken. Whoa!
Nigeria now denies passports to paying applicants? Oh my.
Believe me, I found the entire process relatively easy but breathtakingly fierce.
Yes! There were times that stubborn old ‘Nigerian factor’ (and this is me quoting the SC as saying what basically stands a synonym for ‘Nigerian ineffiency’) reared its ugly head. One of such was the depressingly long queuing process and the unnecessary hours I wasted sitting by the bleachers waiting on a ‘lost’ or what was to be later renamed ‘nameless’ file despite it just sitting in the middle of a swarm of migration officers. Or the fact that my name was in Bold print atop that Nameless File.
Now, back to my gimmickry. When it was my turn, it was easy for the networked computers to find out my omissions (or be it commission?) and so readjust my application to RE-ISSUE my old passport and all its failed or passed visas, and not just render what might have ended up being a FRESH PASSPORT with no history what so ever.
In the end, it was kind of pleasant to be found out. So to those fraudsters who try to buy their way into a nationality, or falsify their known identities, we best wish them luck at the NIMS because it seems Nigeria intends to keep her promises this time.
Another fun fact: No money changed hands. Either over or under the counter all the time I spent there. Now is that an accomplishment? I mean the literal absence of the green paper for what some tag as one of Africa’s most corrupt countries?
It’s a welcomed change.
Tn Odu
Freelance writer, Indie Book Author, and Publisher for Phantom House Books Ngr

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