My mum’s and my international passports expired in June, so we had to apply to get the new e-passport. We were advised before going to our *local passport office to get someone to ‘help’ out and given a contact number. We queried him, out of curiosity, on what the process for issuance of the passport was. He reeled off this long process of opening a file, getting documents verified and approved before the capture of image and finger print and finally issuance of passport. His duty was to ‘move’ the file from one office to the other quicker. The thing is, like most processes in this country, there are people trying to stall it for their own personal/financial reasons.
I have no idea what the official application fee for the passport is; we (my mum & I) paid N13k each and were not given any receipt/ proof of payment. When we insisted on seeing one, they hastily printed off something from the computer and showed it to us and in the pretence of being in a hurry we were not allowed to look at the print out for long.
From what I saw all the officials in the passport office apart from those actually working were in the business of helping people process their passports quicker. Having no time to waste sitting around while he moved the file, we left and returned two days later for the image and biometric capture. It was smooth sailing from there as we got the passports two days after.
I had to wonder why where there so many officers that have no actual duties than sitting outside waiting for people to come around? I have heard stories of faster and more straightforward service at passport offices in other states; maybe the revolution is still headed this way!
This week I read in the papers, This Day precisely, of the requirement of married women to present letters of consent from their husbands before they were issued a passport. I had indeed heard a story from a lady who went through that some moments ago. I was glad to learn that it is no longer a requirement. But- what on earth were they thinking when they included that as a requirement for women? Will any Nigerian man, whose wife left the country unbeknownst to him, sue the Nigeria Immigration Service for issuing her a passport?
Thank God for Dr. Priye Iyalla-Amadi, who when faced with this requirement questioned it and fought for women’s rights in this patriarchal society.
*local, as in the one in the state I reside.