EVEN with out the discontinuities spawned by the Covid-19 pandemic, acquiring a Nigerian passport via the prescribed process was at all times fraught.
Go to any passport-issuing workplace in Nigeria, and you’ll find a seething, murmuring crowd of candidates who had been on the scene each working day in the course of the earlier week, the week earlier than that, and in all probability the week previous that, and are but no nearer to acquiring the prized doc than they had been the day they first set foot on the precincts.
It’s not a job for the faint of coronary heart, or the go-it-alone particular person, irrespective of his or her dexterity in navigating all of the bureaucratic hoops. Nor does it matter how punctiliously she or he is in filling out the applying kind.
It helps when you’ve got a strong sponsor, know, or can relate to, a key official within the chain who can see the matter via. In case you don’t, the subsequent neatest thing is to rent a guide–pardon this needed dignification – a riff on James Thurber – since we’re discussing a momentous subject – who is aware of the territory inside out: how the place works, who stories to whom, which palms to grease and how one can grease them with out leaving fingerprints, and whom the officers belief to ship with out fuss and with out ceremony.
You’re nearly assured to acquire your passport the very subsequent day.
In case you don’t have a strong sponsor and can’t rent a guide, then you’ll need luck of the rarest variety or non secular intervention or each to acquire a passport months after submitting.
Your software could also be full and legitimate in each materials explicit, however what if the official who ought to deal with it’s perpetually not on seat, or is on depart of absence for the subsequent three months and no one else in the home can deal with your software, because it belongs in a really particular class, and solely an officer who belongs in that rarefied rank can deal with it.
Unlucky certainly, however the software can not transfer till the officer returns. You perceive, Madam?
One other state of affairs: Every part is shipshape, Madam, as shipshape as might be. There is only one small downside. Fewer than 100 passport booklets can be found at the moment, and the workplace has to apply excessive rationing till a brand new consignment arrives. It might occur tomorrow or subsequent 12 months, we simply don’t know. With Covid-19, nothing is definite anymore. Nothing is given.
Considering these prospects, delivered with important solemnity by the contractor, the applicant for a passport is lowered to asking quite diffidently whether or not it meant that nothing would avail.
However contractor and applicant know deep down that, in Nigeria, one thing at all times avails. They strike a cut price, and the passport that had sooner or later appeared like a forlorn quest turns into a splendid actuality, to the satisfaction of all of the events involved, seen and invisible.
Why do passport seekers undergo this ordeal after they may head to a sure locale inside shouting distance of Lion Constructing in central Lagos and inside hours, receive, on their very own phrases, no questions requested, and no “go come,” official passport as real as any such doc ever issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service?
As a result of they know no different route? From lack of capability to embark on that route? From an abundance of persistence? From respect for the legislation and due course of? From worry of the implications if the entire thing got here unstuck?
On to you, graduate college students in sociology and social psychology. One thing tells me that for those who discover these questions with the rigour they name forth, you’re greater than doubtless so as to add a footnote – and even change one – within the literature on the Nigerian character.
To return to my theme: acquiring a Nigerian passport on overseas shores is simply as fraught. The method is clear – antiseptically so.
There may be virtually no human contact till you seem for the “interview” for “biometric seize.” The method is digital, on-line.
In the USA, they appear to have farmed it out to an Indian-owned entrepreneur who apparently runs another enterprise or companies on the aspect.
You want they’d contracted such a delicate matter to a Nigerian, and that the positioning was not so fast to lure you to different websites to buy some junk merchandise or service.
However that’s small matter in comparison with the unhelpfulness of the Chancery in Atlanta, Georgia. For an software filed in January, they offer you an interview date for April.
They are saying you possibly can ask for one more date, however while you accomplish that on a devoted e mail platform, they inform you curtly that your request has been obtained.
You comply with up and name a quantity indicated on the Chancery web site. The cellphone rings and rings and rings, till a recorded voice tells you that the official you wish to speak with just isn’t out there and that it is best to please depart a message. However earlier than you are able to do so, the identical recorded voice tells you that the mailbox is full and is accepting no new messages.
You name every single day for one week operating: similar outcome.
In desperation, you are taking an opportunity and write a really courteous letter to senior official on the Chancery telling him of your expertise and asking if he would kindly assist kind issues out. He doesn’t provide the profit, nor the courtesy of a reply.
I used to be about to write down to the Head of the Chancery when the Covid-19 conflagration paralyzed nearly all transactions of an official or business nature.
On the Mission’s web site, the April interview date has now been changed by “Not out there. Please contact Embassy/Mission.” However the Chancery has remained singularly unresponsive.
The one human contact I’ve had on the Chancery was with a clerk with one other service unit. He was courteous, instructed me I had referred to as the improper quantity, however appeared keen to assist.
Then, he launched into an extended lecture on how the Mission was overwhelmed, and why the ready for passports was so lengthy and the appointment date may very well be modified solely within the occasion of a dying within the household, which, God forbid. However within the occasion, a dying certificates, duly authenticated by a chosen authority, needed to be connected to the request for the change.
Significantly. I’m not making this up.
Beforehand, to acquire a passport, you solely wanted to connect two copies of your image to the applying kind and signal on the dotted traces.
They stated the association made all of it too simple for individuals engaged in syndicated crime to acquire a number of passports and to offer Nigeria a foul identify.
By requiring candidates to look in particular person for “information seize” on the level of issuance, the authorities may ensure that the passport belonged to the particular person whose identify and movie seem on it and to no different, so the authorities claimed.
Nigeria is the one nation I do know that insists on this association which inflicts pointless monetary, bodily and emotional ache on candidates.
That’s cause sufficient for discontinuing the coverage. However there may be extra. The stipulation doesn’t work. It serves no helpful objective.
You’ll be able to nonetheless have as many Nigerian passports as you possibly can pay for, and beneath as many names as you fancy.
America passport is, subsequent maybe to its $20 invoice, essentially the most broadly counterfeited doc on the planet.
But, you want solely provide two footage along with your accomplished software, and signal on the dotted traces earlier than an official on the native submit workplace to acquire a passport.
You aren’t required to journey exterior your home of residence. And the doc is mailed to your property inside weeks.
Our degree of organisation, I grant, just isn’t cohesive sufficient to allow that form of association.
However an association that inflicts wanton monetary, bodily and emotional ache on passport seekers is a merciless abuse of Nigerians and their citizen rights.
Now’s the time to finish it, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Honourable Minister of Inside Affairs.