No doubt, I consider myself one of the privileged few that owns our national passport, even though many people still felt the passport is no diplomatic value, except for the rules of immigration engagement
The pros and cons of this view is not the subject matter today but am however worried by the “ by all means” attention attached to the acquisition of our national passport by Nigerians, particularly the youths. I have been asking the very important questions about the reasons for the spike despite the “ out of the normal fees” required to acquire both new and renewal of our national passport.
First, let me explain that the immigration office at Ikoyi is a” touristic” destination. The huge crowd of many persons, passport seekers, snacks and drinks operators, the middle men and women, car park operators and one chance unregistered passport executive officers and their many official assistants, make the place very interesting to study.
Please don’t ask what took me to the place. Rightly, you deserve to know and it is about the quest to renew my passport which expired about two months ago.
Am not here to speak ill of the Ikoyi immigration market, sorry office or that of Ikeja or anywhere in Nigeria but it’s important to state that getting your passport can be done easily these days, maybe faster at Ikoyi if you have the energy to go round all the various windows and God help you, one basic requirement(s) gets missing, all over, your wahala will start again.
I speak as one in the spirit, there is an endless thriving business here for both government, the people and officers manning the various desks. I can see that everybody is happy, clients, car park operators, the snack operators and the banks.
But wait, thrice in the past few weeks in which I left everything to my business to get my passport renewed, I began to count the numbers of the young persons, daily in their numbers, anxiously waiting and processing their passports. It’s an unbelievable traffic.
Do you that even one month to six months babies were not left out. At the capturing room where your details and pictures are taken as part of the requirements, there is this beautiful immigration lady officer who seems to be an expert in getting these toddlers in the mood for pictures. She does good job at it, very good and some mothers do have them stubborn ones refuse to play ball, pronto the lady takes over and she truly love children.
I was tempted to ask her if she was trained for the assignment but on second thought, decided to mind my business. Those immigration officers are never in the mood to tolerate busy body like me.
And to avoid blowing my cover, I decided to just Sidon and look even when I should fast track my processing agenda and leave. I just couldn’t but start calculating the “ extras “ dropping for everyone across board and was convinced there was no cult like agreement between the Officers and men. It is a privilege to work for government, I suppose!
Here, you only get delayed if you have all day to waste but if you mean business, your passport will be ready in a week if you did not take the apian way.
Back to the real issue of the day, the rate and hunger for Nigerian passport by the youths may need to attract some very serious attention. By this suggestion or proposition, am not canvassing the CBN strategy or in anyway, supporting that the youths should be denied their rights to own a national passport.
I will not also support any form of censorship just as being dictated for social media but am worried our children are not happy, ready to leave the country for good and leaving the country for the tired and confused politicians.
Even the politicians behind all the troubles in the land, have all their families outside the shores of the country. Na wetin dey happen?
If you think this is tales by the moon light, please visit the immigration offices all the country. Am sure, you will be shocked. Indeed, if the immigration keeps tabs, on the profiling statistics on passport demands demographically since the end of #end SARS and government hunt for the innocent protesters, the spike in graphics rise must be beyond measure, far more ever demanded or requested.
One very caring and observant officer while documenting and profiling young successful applicants would look at the date of their birth , read out to double check and confirm, later will lament audibly a “ Nigerian human resources lost”.
One such prospective “ lost resources”, a young lady of about 18 years old, told me Nigeria offers her no hope and trust. She like others ( again more of our girls are shopping for passport) says the oppressive environment coupled with the clever lies and manipulation of the society are reasons enough to force them out.
She spoke with guts and so much confidence and even when I told her it’s not Uhuru out there, with the covid 19 pandemic and all, she simply shrugged her shoulder , with eyes clearly set for tomorrow outside Nigeria.
At the passport office, these ones patiently wait, endured the heat and the sun just to get the passport. It was like their lives depends on it. I just wonder.
All those waiting for me to say the immigration officers are like the policemen at toll gates, will never have their way. These guys are polite and respectful, on attention to direct you where you can get help.
Despite the crowd and the pressure, they hold their heads high, ensure you follow covid protocol. To cover nose is compulsory but I didn’t get to see much of the hand washing protocols.
That place needs expansion, the carrying capacity is breached daily and it could be a potential place for the spread of the dreaded disease.
Before I go, the computer section where images and details of applicants are captured need to be overhauled. The systems breakdown between 12am and 2pm, lost man hours that could help fast track the number of applicants attended to daily. Some officers blame it on witchcraft!
Yes, the face of passport acquisition has changed and am convinced it is same at our airports, local and International. Something needs to be done at Margret Ekpo airport in Calabar. It’s unbelievable.
To Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, please do something fast before we lose our best brains to foreign countries, ditto for youth and sports.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed can also organise “discover Nigeria” agenda targeted at our youths to expose them to many untapped economic potentials of Nigeria. Alhaji Lai Mohammed can reculturise them through organised home stays with families across the country apart from their place of birth or origin.