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New wind blowing in passport office

During the week, I had cause to visit the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) or more specifically the passport office in Ikoyi, Lagos, by the time I was through with what I went to do, I came out with the renewed belief that there is still hope for Nigeria and our country can be better than what we presently have, with the right leadership mix.

From the entrance which was manned by a few, smartly dressed operatives of the passport office through the entire process culminating in the acquisition or capture for a new passport, as the photo shot of the process is referred, the orderliness in the exercise indicates that certain public institutions can really work given the right leadership. My last visit was not my first visit, I had visited the same office about five years earlier and one of the noticeable highlight of the visit was the hordes of touts that besieged me from the entrance, some almost breaking the glass of my vehicle, soliciting for patronage. They were there to procure whatever you want in your bid to obtain the green-back Nigerian passport, at a cost. Though, the operatives were neatly dressed, the chaos, rowdiness were enough to try the patience of the calmest human being. There was a sense of disorderliness everywhere, with many sharks out there waiting to exploit the unwary applicant.

My recent visit was thus an eye opener. From the entry point where a new gate house has been constructed, which I gathered, would also accommodate a body scanner in order to provide security for applicants and even the operatives within, to the banks where necessary payment had to be made at the official price, it was easy to transact whatever business one came for. The bank hall is another of the innovations which I saw, but was not there during my last visit. Then, banking was transacted in a shipping container; of course, you have to stand in a disorganized queue until God knows when your transaction would end, with the endless streams of applicants mixed with tout who besiege the counter for one transaction or the other. What we have now are properly built banking halls for the banks within the premises, with space for applicants to sit while waiting to be attended to.

That was not the only innovation, which I gathered, started in January, this year, with the resumption of the new Passport Control officer and Deputy Comptroller of Immigration (DCI), Mr.  Segun Adegoke, who has brought innovations that have made the acquisition of the Nigerian passport, whether for fresh applicants, renewal or re-issue, a seamless, less stressful exercise. Another noticeable innovation is a newly constructed, modern waiting area for applicants within the premises. This comes with comfortable seats and cooling system powered by a new Generator. This has eliminated the idea of applicants milling around in the scorching sun.

The sitting area was also extended to the collection point where applicants who had been told to come for their passport could sit comfortably without the blazing sun on their head. This makes for efficiency as the crowd of applicants did not have to disturb the immigration officers who were sorting out passports for collection. Seeing some of the changes that had taken place in the place since my last visit, I decided, out of curiosity, to move around on my own. I was quite impressed. An area had been created within the compound where nursing mothers can take care of their kids-changing diapers and the likes, with several porcelain white wash hand basins arrayed against the wall, indicating that several users can be there without one disturbing the others. In another part of the office is an ongoing construction work which I gathered is to serve as clinics for applicants in case of   emergency and for the use of NIS operatives. Apart from the neat coat of paints on the buildings, ceramic tiles have equally been laid along the corridors. Such neatness is always seen in private business, not public institutions.

Though, I have not visited other passport offices located in other parts of Lagos or for that matter in all the states capital, but if they are as impressive as what I saw in Ikoyi, then the Comptroller-General, Mr. Mohammed Babandede should be commended for the good job of encouraging his officers to fly and be creative as public officers. Other agencies of government should take a cue from him.


Thinking 2019, thinking Oyo governorship

Do not be deceived by the headline of this article. It is not as if I am planning to contest for the governorship of Oyo state, though I am qualified to do so, even if nobody, except me is saying so. I am from Oyo State and definitely not the minority part of the state. So if I chose to contest, nobody would tell me to collect any letter identifying me as an indigene.

I have decided to focus on the coming contest in the state in view of the claims by certain sections in the state that it should be their turn to take over from the incumbent, Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Specifically, the people of Oke-ogun made up of Iseyin, Otu, Saki, Igboho, Okaka, Sepeteri, Ago-are, Okeho, among many other towns, are now going about with this sense of entitlement that it should be their turn to produce the governor in 2019 because nobody from that part of the state had ever governed Oyo state. As much as I am averse to a particular segment of the society being marginalized, whether rightly or wrongly, the Oke Ogun people who have been in the vanguard of promoting this sense of entitlement should understand that getting the plum job goes beyond shouting on the roof top that you have been marginalized.

Who, indeed in our society, is not marginalized? I am equally marginalized, my area Ogbomoso is equally marginalized as we have only produced a governor in the person of the immediate past governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, since the creation of the state and nobody should remind me that a certain Col. Oladayo Popoola came from Ogbomoso. His stay was so brief that before we could ascertain his origin, the General Ibrahim Babangida coup which came after his appointment by General Mohammed Buhari as Oyo governor, had taken him to Ogun state. Still talking marginalization, is what is happening with the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology(LAUTECH), which had been closed for several months with workers being owed upwards of eight months’ salary not part of the marginalization we are talking about? LAUTECH is the only major, noteworthy institution in Ogbomoso.

We can thus safely conclude that the key to Agodi government house had always resided in the hands of Ibadan people, if we were to look at it that way. History is there. And it shows a long list of Ibadan indigenes as Oyo governor at different periods. From Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, though a short tenure, to Kolapo Ishola, Rashidi  Ladoja and the present occupant, governorship of Oyo state had always been resident among Ibadan indigenes. To become the governor in Oyo state, you have to woo Ibadan. They have the voting population. They have the highest number of local government areas to boot.   So if we are talking entitlement, what stops Ogbomoso from staking a claim?

They can and they would not be asking for the impossible and in the spirit of fair play, if they cannot get that top post, the deputy governorship position should not be too far off. Presently, the state’s deputy governor, Moses Alake is from Oke Ogun, would that still amount to Oke Ogun people’s claim to marginalization?  What I am driving at here is that politics, as we have played it here, is not about a sense of entitlement but the ability to reach a consensus, to compromise, win and lose some. That should be the consideration for whoever is staking a claim for Oyo governorship.

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Editor, Online: Ikenna Emewu
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