Hi guys… Thank God it’s Friday!
This story is one of my ordeal yesterday at the Passport Office. It is quite long so please bear with me 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you! 💜💜💜
I never knew how dramatic getting a Nigerian Passport could be. I had applied for it some two weeks back. My contact person had charged me for what was supposed to be express fee (substantially more than the original fee to make it faster) as I later was told. I needed it for an exam I wanted to do. The deadline was drawing near. And I couldn’t register for the exam because I needed the passport number and expiry date.
I had been calling since two weeks ago. The story I was hearing was: “No booklet” which baffled and annoyed me at the same time. I don’t understand how something such as issuing passport would be met by “No booklet”- this is a federal parastatalfor goodness sake! Anyways, I had to reach out to the examining body and I got up until today (Friday) to retain a slot before registering for the exam.
Finally, after waiting, I went to the passport office yesterday. My contact person linked me up with an official who was to help. The woman started complaining about no booklet and there was no way I would get it. She said for me to go and come back next week. I called my original contact person and he confirmed that his own contact person had the final say. I hung up before he finished. It was then I realized the criticality of what was on ground. I NEEDED to register for that exam. I paid EXTRA for a faster process and now I’m being told story. I wasn’t having it.
After standing for a while in front of her desk, thinking of my next step, I didn’t realize the sadness I felt was reflected on my face. Guys, you know what? Let’s call my contact person “Madam le”.
So Madam le then spoke to me calmly, assuring me of next week. I stood without moving and told her I just had to get it today. She reluctantly took me to her Oga. She was grumbling all the way because oga wasn’t “happy” today. She didn’t want to be shouted at.
She left me outside the office and asked me to go and plead my case. When I went in and saw the level of begging that was happening. I was appalled. Like this is my own country ooo, I no tiff another person own – my own birth country and I had to go through this to get my passport. Sigh.
Before it got to my turn, the man was already shouting at the person before that he didn’t want to hear any flimsy story and that anyone who started the process in March shouldn’t bother. Eventually it was my turn, all the while, I prayed on the queue. I had a reassurance in my heart that It would be sorted today so I prayed quietly in the spirit that I would obtain favor. When it was my turn, I hadn’t even explained for two minutes. He looked at my exam documents and email trail in a hurry. I honestly doubt that he read it. He said I couldn’t get it done and then dismissed me. They were only treating “priority”
At this point, I had lost hope. I walked slowly back to Madam le’s office. She told me, “Shebi I tell you. No way today, booklet no dey”
I just stood with my documents in one hand and my hand bag on the other. She continued with her work. I noticed an old man (actually not so old but he is older than my dad, so…. 🙄) I thought he stared at me weirdly but I wasn’t even in the mood so I dismissed it. After a while, He tapped me. I flipped! (inside of course) I really don’t get why people must touch in this Lagos.
Like it’s my ear I use to hear now. Anyways, he asked what the problem was. I started my narration. By this time, I had already crammed my story. Half way in between, I realized he wasn’t even listening to me, He was nodding his head weirdly and I could trace his eyes to my breasts. Lol. My head sparked! Literally. I wasn’t wearing a revealing dress. I also am not busty at all. Not like these things are a license for harassment. It was really annoying. This was a senior citizen staring at a possible grand daughter in that manner. My head was already aching I just couldn’t deal. He started speaking in Igbo on how he went to school with another oga who could help me. I ignored his drama and spoke to his friend. He was so kind to me that I almost cried and he directed me to another oga who could sign off and approve my file. I thanked him profusely… And made my way out to the new oga’s office.
On my way out, I met uncle chief daddy. He started with his eyes running all over my body. “Bia Ozzy… give me ya number… Let me keep track of your situation. I would also call my friend…”
In my head I wondered why, when and how I transitioned to “Ozzy”. I also wondered how he was staring at me funny and how he, a non-immigration officer could keep track of my situation. Then I remembered this is Nigeria and then I seriously wondered why I was a Nigerian 😢😢😢 I put in my digits and he called me to make sure it wasn’t a fake. He was later joined with his friend, Ichie with the legendary Igbo Chief Daddy stomach, a red cap and walking stick (AKA Ichie starter pack)… Both of them were laughing and looking in a funny way when I left,
I felt bad as I walked to the new oga’s office. I felt really bad that these men could not have a decent conversation with a young lady without harassing her with their eyes. (oh yes running over someone’s body with sexual thirst written all over your face IS harassment)
I waited for this new Oga for about 1 and half hours. People were going in and out and I was just left standing at the side of the door. It was then I met an Americana whose name I didn’t get. She spoke to me very kindly. After telling her how much I paid, she felt even worse for me because she said that’s how much Express passport cost. She said how I wasn’t supposed to be stressing myself like this if I paid that much. I felt so sad at this realization but she was so kind to me that I kept smiling. Then my phone rang, my mom. One officer looked me funny, I just respected myself and stepped out to pick my call. I think that’s one thing I feared the most yesterday – some uniformed person raising their voice at me for whatever. I really would have just sat on the floor and cried. No jokes.
I picked the call and when I started narrating my ordeal, I started crying. Who remembers when I said I cry a lot some posts ago? Well, it wasn’t a joke. I was so sad that I cried. Now I didn’t want to cry because I was standing in the walkway and I didn’t want people staring or asking plenty questions. I just leaned on the way and dabbed my eyes. Still, the tears came. My mom was shocked at the level of slying my contact people dished out. She also encouraged and prayed for me. Her prayer seemed to unlock the floodgates of my eyes because I really had a conviction that I would sort it out today. Only it didn’t look like it again. It was almost 1:30pm. Just then, the very first Oga that turned me out passed and as he got to me, he asked with a heavy hausa accent, “Young lady, why are you crying?”
I was so ashamed of myself that I dabbed my eyes furiously with the right sleeve of my jacket and signaled nothing with my head. Then, I looked up and saw his name tag, I realized he was the same person whose approval I needed. I showed him my papers and tried to explain… He cut me short and asked me to follow him for signing! I was shocked. I arranged myself before running after him. My heart was so full of thanksgiving!
God is interested even in the littlest details and yesterday was a huge reminder.
Back to my story… 🙂
Things went really smooth from then. By 2pm, I had submitted my file to go for production (supposed to be final stage) Madam le told me when I went to give her update that I should wait and collect it. She said even if it was 8pm, I should wait for it. Coming tomorrow would be another hassle, she said.
So I settled down and looked for something to eat…
It was about past 6pm now. I was tired of waiting. I found someone who was helping the few of us left to check our application status. He had just told a lady by my side that her’s was at Encode stage (Already in production blah blah) I then begged to have mine checked too (The begging I begged yesterday enh… no be here) When he checked, he said mine was at AA stage (Arrival…)
I couldn’t believe my ears. This meant my file wasn’t actually moved and I had been waiting since 2! I recall asking the man if I could confirm that mine was among the ones being taken, I said it was and just backed away… As I was replaying the scene in my head over and over again, a man came out and called out to the rest of us. Thick hausa accent again, “If you are waiting for collection, follow me….”
We followed, about 8 of us. He checked our cases one by one and when he got to me. He confirmed my application status was AA and ended his short speech with, “Come back on Monday…”
I stood up like a zombie, looking straight ahead. My body ached. My head too. I was famished and I got back to the bench were others were seated to pick my bag, I stood and raised both hands on my head. I thought about the exam I needed to write… and again, tears welled up. I ran out, amidst plenty “Dont cry now” from sympathizers. I stood outside, one hand on my head, the other holding my bag explaining to one of the non-official contact people who was trying to ‘sell his market’ by offering another shorter route but I was done with them all. I made to move away when an officer came out of them room. He asked me what was wrong (Biggest mistake to make when I’m crying) and I burst out telling him my narration. He told me to run as fast as I could to a certain Oga). I did as he told me. Before I entered, I wiped my tears but my face was so sad. I got to his office and stood. He was talking to someone else. When he was done, I greeted him and he said, “Yes?”
Instead of me to answer, tears welled up my throat again. I couldn’t say a word. The thought of not writing these exams because of passport was driving my head in a funny direction. He looked up at me and when he saw my face, his eyes filled with pity.
“What do you want?”
I recited my narration again. He asked where my file was and I told him I gave it to a certain officer (who thankfully was sitting close by) when it was approved. I also told him how I just discovered my file never left that room. The man turned impatiently at the other (apparently very junior to him)… “Where is her file?” I honestly can’t tell you guys the left-and-right this junior staff was saying. He didn’t make sense to me. The man cut him short and asked him to go get my file. When I saw the junior staff bring up my file, I just had tears roll down. It was probably swapped for a ‘more important’ one. I was going to judge him but then I realized I had paid for express and this was probably how they churn out their ‘clients’ passports ahead of others. The oga gave an instruction for him to go fetch me a passport. I started thanking him profusely and then he said, “Alright young lady, follow that man and make sure you get your passport…”
I was in between wondering how I was to get my passport ‘now’ when it was already 5:45pm and wondering how I didn’t notice this Oga was fine. He was fair and tall and his hausa accent perfectly complimented his good command of English.
I semi-ran out of the room, following the said officer who now walked with a sense of urgency. It was 5:45pm. My brothers and sisters, it was about 5:55pm when this man came out with my passport and specially took me to go activate it. I was shocked and thankful and I felt too many emotions at once. That was how I got my passport o, after a whole day of stress. Everyone who saw me run out of the room few minutes ago, kept asking me how I did what and what I did. I was so overwhelmed that I wanted to cry again.
That was how I left them and went back to the man’s office. I met him walking towards the waiting room I was coming from and I just went to my knees to thank him (because that’s how I learnt to relate with Ndi Ala-a) He said to me, “Haba Young lady, get up. All the best”
THE END !!!!!!
Friends, Nigeria tires me. I am not proud of myself at all that I had to go through the ‘express’ mode. I am also not proud that I allowed the system lead me to do that. Yesterday, I told myself to be proactive and always choose the right regardless and just trust God to come through for me because really, it was HE who helped me yesterday. The Immigration office is just one of the many many things in Nigeria that don’t work as they ought to. I hope and pray for a better Nigeria.
Also, some days I don’t like that I am emotional. But it is a part of my core than I cherish and after yesterday, it is definitely a blessing! No more feeling bad again…
I shared this with you all because it was just an eye opener for me and It was too much of a
gist testimony for me not to share.
Do you have any passport office or public service episodes? Please share them with me. I would absolutely love to read from you. Thank you! 🙂
By the way, Chief Daddy called me almost 5 times between then and last night telling me he likes me blah blah and how he would like to meet with me at some address before “o mecha ihe travel” (before he concludes his travel matters) Looool! Just imagine that. A whole Ada Zion like me. Honestly, I
low-key felt insulted but as the child of that I am, I told me Okay SIR and blocked him right after. Please join me to pray for the man and his family. He needs Jesus…. obviously 🙂