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NaijaSingleGirl: All the Drama that Goes on at the Passport Office in Lagos

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I was told I would need passport photographs, copies of my birth certificate and my certificate of origin to apply for an international passport. No one mentioned the N1,000 and N500 tips here and there.

I met a crowd under a canopy who came for the same purpose when I arrived the passport office in Ikeja. My contact gave me a form to fill and told me to join them. After waiting for more than three hours, I was told my file won’t be processed until I had a guarantor, a challenge that took me two weeks to fix.

When I returned two weeks later for what they call ‘capturing’, I met an even larger crowd triggered by the shortage of passport booklets. Among the crowd were returnees who were there to renew their passport. You know the usual IJGB signs – tattoos, bling-blings, jerry curl hair, weird haircuts, wanna ganna accent, singlets and shorts with winter boots etc.

One guy walked in with a basket ball displaying all of the above signs. It appeared he was there earlier in the day to renew his passport, but left when he couldn’t stand the queue. An officer came out to pacify the crowd and this guy, who decided to be our mouthpiece shouted, “Damn man! Shit iz taking too long. We aint gat all day here. I gat practice by 4 man.”
Then he turned to me and said, “Mest up country yo!” Me, I was just like, O-O

4pm, we were still waiting. Another officer came out to call names and the Americana’s name was exempted. This time around, he broke into pidgin in a clear Nigerian accent. “Officer I don tire to dey wait! Person go come die ontop passport! Na wa oh
People who heard him earlier were laughing. Then he stormed into the main building angrily. It wasn’t long my name was called in for capturing. Beside the capturing office is an iron gate which serves as a jail and Americana and his basketball were doing time there. Apparently he had gone in to make trouble and one of the no-nonsense officers had bundled him into the jail. This time I heard him swearing in Americana, pidgin and Yoruba.

I walked into the capturing room and the capturing officer took one look at me and walked me out. He said they weren’t going to photograph me because I was not dressed properly. I was befuddled; seeing that I was dressed in a sleeveless maxi dress, which is decent enough in my own opinion. However, I quietly left in search of whom to borrow jacket from, but I found no one.

There was a ‘Nigerian mother’ seated outside with their signature scarf wrapped around her neck. I explained my situation and asked her if I could borrow her scarf for a few minutes. After an eternity of staring at me from feet to head as though my approach was disrespectful, she grudgingly handed her scarf to me.

I returned to the office with the scarf wrapped around my shoulder.
When I overheard another officer say, “This her hair eh,” I knew I was in for part two.

The capturing officer told me to pack my weave. I did just that with a rubber band. He complained my left ear was not visible. I tucked my hair behind my ears. He said my forehead was not completely visible.

I took off the wig.

The man was shocked. Some people present were giggling. A girl who was on the queue for capturing said the officer should attend to other people while she assist me with adjusting the wig. Left for her I would have taken that passport peacefully in my didi hairstyle.

Five minutes of being told to tilt my neck clockwise, semi clockwise and anti-clockwise in front of the camera, I was successfully captured.

By then, the woman who gave me the scarf had barged in to demand for it. I returned it to her and she held it by an edge as though I had infected the scarf with a virus.

One of the officers who gave me tough time had quietly slipped his phone number to me while I signed out. Outside the office, two elderly female officers called me aside and started lecturing me on indecent dressing. They said I was supposed to wear a suit to take the passport so I don’t end up being mistaken for someone who is travelling for prostitution by the officials at foreign airports. I told them it was the work of the devil.
On the good side, I now own an international passport.
Italy here I come!

Photo Credit: Xiao Cai | Dreamstime.com

46 Comments

  1. Esther I O

    May 5, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I couldn’t help but laugh out soo loudly….i can totally relate to this!!!
    weldone dear NSG…

  2. Bennie

    May 5, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Very Funny, but nice write up

  3. Negha

    May 5, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Hahahah this is hilarious! Hahahah this reminds me of what happened to me at the NYSC headquarters ooo in Abuja! To say I cried is an understatement! I was fraustrated to the bone marrow! If he wanted money honestly he should have just said prompt and plain I would have obliged rather than the stress that man put me through! But no ….. congrats on your passport! At least that Wahala is over! I’m about to renew mine in London and boy I have my boxing gloves ready! It’s the same here ooo if not worse !

    • sweetzie

      May 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Hell it’s the same in New York City!? Nigeria my con3 smh

    • Manny

      May 6, 2017 at 1:13 am

      This is so hilarious. NSG well done.
      NYC is a day’s job, you will be there from 9 to 5. I bet that’s why there is a food truck right outside selling Naija food.
      But one thing I don’t think they will dare do is say you are inappropriately dressed. The good thing with the offices abroad (ny & dc from my experience) is once you have all your documentation, no bribes needed.
      God help Nigeria. I know too many people these days who just get Naija visa for their children instead of the passport.

  4. O

    May 5, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    What a story?

    ” The capturing officer told me to pack my weave. I did just that with a rubber band. He complained my left ear was not visible. I tucked my hair behind my ears. He said my forehead was not completely visible.

    I took off the wig.”

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud!!!! All this for a passport?

  5. Mama

    May 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    You had me laughing all through. Congrats on getting your passport! (Yes ke, e reach to congratulate you). I hope Mr Americana was released before you left sha…

  6. northern princess

    May 5, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    this article is hilarious! i died at the i took the wig off. babygirl cannot come and go and die. americana on the other hand should be my friendd… i will stare at him all day and laugh

  7. S!

    May 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Same thing happened to me when I went for capturing. They said my hair wasn’t according to their standard. I should cut my hair & come back.
    Thank God I went with my dad that day. I was so livid.

  8. gloriafinesblog.com

    May 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    OMG this got me lol NSG you rock joor. Congrats on being an international passport owner..

  9. Anonymous

    May 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Please don’t make me lose my job. I read this at work and was laughing like a heifer. Where did you go to my girl? i have missed you.

  10. Hotchik

    May 5, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Hmmm! Thank God no one asked me to remove my wig, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t wearing a suit or anything close. I went to the passport office in Ikoyi — didn’t have any issues (or observe any funny moves by the officers). I must say that was a year ago.

    Very entertaining write-up!

    P.S. Na so I think I dey write email. I was about to sign off with my real name. Say what??

    • dnddyon

      June 22, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Abeg, I’m about to go to that Ikoyi office for renewal.
      Ho did yours really go?

  11. xristybabes

    May 5, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    LMAO…chai!!!I can so relate.thank God you finally​ got your ogbenge passport

  12. whocares

    May 5, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    lmaooooo. aww you poor child; come let me gist you about my passport experience in the abroad. I woke up at 7am (me i dont even wake up that early for work!) i was determined to catch them as they opened the door so that the first person they saw there was me. I had gone the last month, but I was bounced, so this time around, I was prepared!
    Got there at 10; the devil decided to show face- i forgot my buspass at home, had a wedgie, my eyebrow was not on fleek etc etc. Got there, and before entering they said we could not enter if we did not have passport photograph, or printed copies or some other nonsense. See panic, i had to start looking for printer, and post office to take picture- this is not a problem for normal people; but if you are me and are geographically challenged (ie to say, i cannot follow google map to save my life and ori mi dull somehow) it is a problem. An hour later, i dashed back and was finally allowed to enter. The room is probably the size of my living room, several people were standing but i managed to find a seat- i knew i was in for a wait so i had brought along Helen Oyeyemi’s new book (what is not yours is not yours- gorgeous book btw) and so settled in to read. As i sat by the ac – the cold wanted to kill me, but i couldn’t give up my seat so i had to sit through it na ni. This is aside from the fact that several aunts and uncles had paid arrangees to help them jump the queue and I and some other people were the mugu doing it without prearranged helped. At 1pm, hunger started to hammer my life, but i couldn’t leave also. I even forgot to bring my little snack of rice and egusi from home because I was in such a hurry. I did big girl, boned face and tried to forget the hunger. At 1:30pm i needed to pee (i was sitting by the ac remember so cold and the need to urinate are NOT friends) but i was worried about my seat. When it became clear that i might be in serious trouble if i didnt get up to pee, I left it in god’s hand and went to pee sha, I came back and my seat was intact (e ke halleluyah) To cut my epistle short, i walked out of that place at 5.00pm battered in body and spirit. I could not go home just like that, i went to a restaurant, ordered a large pizza and treated myself to two (or more? glasses of wine) after which i began to feel human again.
    You know, those people did not even ask for the passport photograph. Till this day, I walk around with all 4 pictures in my wallet as a eff you to the Nigerian embassy. Olorun oni damu awon people yen the way they like to play around
    Boy this is LONG. LMAOOOOOO. SORRY!

    • naijasinglegirl

      May 5, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      I had to stopped by ICM to treat myself to pizza and ice cream the day I collected it. It took me 5 hours of waiting and N2.500 in tips because I didn’t have my slip. Pretty sure one or two people at the mall were wondering why that greedy girl is having pizza alone. If only they knew what I went through.

    • aj

      May 6, 2017 at 12:35 am

      lmaooooo this is just wack! nawa for them ooo. now the Nigerian embassy in D.C is on strike. chai! wetin man pikin go do now.

    • Atoke

      Atoke

      May 8, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Re What is Yours is Not Yours…. HABA! She finished work. LOVED IT SO MUCH…I had to go pick up ‘Boy, Snow, Bird’! Loving Helen Oyeyemi now!!! We can forgive her for Icarus Girl.

  13. Grace

    May 5, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    I can feel your pain my dear. Same thing happened to me in 2014 when i first went to get an international passport in Benin. Inshort mine was even worst as i was told i am not a Nigerian or from the state i claimed saying i was a foreigner who wanted a Nigerian passport. SMH.

    The officer had to delay me because she was looking for someone to come speak my dialect with me before she may even believe. I cried that day. Like for a passport i am suppose to entitled to in my own country?

    Sometimes i feel this country can never ever be better. Nothing seems to work right and it cant be fixed. Its sad.

  14. Oyinade

    May 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Love, Love Love!!!!!!

  15. Nonye

    May 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    lol….. I can totally relate. A tip of advise dress in corporate attire and ensure you’re linked with an officer who works there.

  16. Dami

    May 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Everything you just wrote…so true. Reminds me though that Nigeria is a comedy and the citizens the jokers…….

  17. le coco

    May 5, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    hahahaha.. amazing .. lool i told them its the devils work

  18. Dami

    May 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    * for got to add. After paying ticket to Abuja to change my name on my passport after my wedding in 2014, used connection to even pay for VVIP so I could capture same day. . Got back to lagos and after 3 days was called that they didn’t save my finger prints well and so couldn’t finish the passport.. Had to pay for flight ticket back to Abuja. Nigeria is truly a forgotten nation. Don’t think our Children’s children children will see a better statequipped than these. For those who have travelled and had to go to the US passport office in Washington DC…….goodness. And then try going to Nigeria embassy for Nija passports in same Washington DC. Nigeria my fatherland…..

    • Blackbeauty

      May 6, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Expecting a reply please.
      Does one have to travel to Abuja for change of name?
      Can’t it be done at state level?

    • Ranimar

      May 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      they say you must go to abuja. i jejely waited till after marriage to even get my own passport here in PHC. Makes no sense and they could not explain logically why it was so centralized

  19. Viv Law

    May 5, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    These parts got me:

    “You know the usual IJGB signs – tattoos, bling-blings, jerry curl hair, weird haircuts, wanna ganna accent, singlets and shorts with winter boots etc.”

    ” “Damn man! Shit iz taking too long. We aint gat all day here. I gat practice by 4 man.”
    Then he turned to me and said, “Mest up country yo!” Me, I was just like, O-O”

    “This time around, he broke into pidgin in a clear Nigerian accent. “Officer I don tire to dey wait! Person go come die on top passport! Na wa oh””

    This part just killed me! LOL:

    “The capturing officer told me to pack my weave. I did just that with a rubber band. He complained my left ear was not visible. I tucked my hair behind my ears. He said my forehead was not completely visible.

    I took off the wig.”

    LOOL! Loved this write up 😀

  20. Zinay

    May 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I lost it at “I took off my wig”.. Lmao
    Nobody told me the day I went o, I tied turban, I was still #TeamNatural and I was having “a bad hair day”. The moment I heard you have to remove your scarf. Chai!, with uncombed hair. I just tucked it in here an dere. No be passport them dey use find husband, besides, I had no plans of rescheduling, I needed to get it over with

  21. Ms. Lurve

    May 5, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    I remember I had an epiphany once and decided I would no longer pay bribes of any kind (2 weeks after epiphany LASTMA caught me, story for another day). Anyway I needed to renew my passport so I went to the website, filled out the form, printed it,, paid at the bank and took my teller and form to the passport office with a smug look on my face. Babanla error!

    Firstly there is no where to submit. Every officer I approached for information would ask “Who is assisting you?” After hours of rigmarolling a niceish officer took pity on me and handed me over to the business center guy to help me. He immediately collected N200 for “File” and N100 for photocopy. He placed my documents in the said file wrote on it with an official looking marker and took me to an office. Long story short they lost my file! After about a week of frustration the officer advised I start the process all over again. Thank God I din’t need to pay to the bank again, I still had my teller but I paid “processing fees”, “thank you fees” I even splashed out for express fee because after all the back and forth I was already tired. Moral of the story is even if you want to do the right thing, the Nigerian system will frustrate you.

  22. ec

    May 5, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    all this stress for what.
    my advise, if you happen to be in the foreign country when your passport is about to expire, do best and renew it there. its faster and easier to do.

    Nice write up

    • keechi

      May 5, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Eh? Which easier? They bring the whole naija nonsense here too! Let me not start my own story of how I spent 12 hrs shift/night vigil at the passport office (they came from Atlanta which is where one of their offices is based, to my city). Then the fact that the passport now took 3 months to get to me. Or is it the fact that they dont ever pick up their phone? God help this country. Even in the abroad they bring the frustration! Infact, I had migraine at the end of that day.

    • Ec

      May 5, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Mine was a lot easier. Getting there number system and capturing.

    • Lliki

      May 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Yeah, it’s very easy in some European countries.
      If you do all your online processing well and make sure all they demanded for is with you, you can get your passport the same day.

      It’s not as bad as people here are claiming. I went for reissuing last summer, i didn’t even wait upto two hours for me to go in for a snap and about half an hour later my passport was handed over to me.

      I have a kind of principles, one of which, I will never give any government officials or anyone at all a back hand money (bribe, egunje). I always do everything myself and I always try to do things right.

  23. Moniker

    May 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    The best part was the last. Italy is calling.
    Love every bloody part of it. Na arrangee I use get my own.

  24. ugo

    May 5, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    the wig part lmaoooooo i can imagine your frustration sorry dear

  25. Ese

    May 5, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    lmao… i hope you wont go thru much stress when its time for collection… The queue for ikoyi immigration office no be here.. if you never settle custom officer you no go see passport ooo.

    • naijasinglegirl

      May 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      Oh yeah I have gotten it. 🙂

      I forgot my slip on the day of collection so I had to tip two officers before they decided to hand it over to me. N1000 for a male officer and N1,500 for the lady. Funny people at that office.

  26. Rubby

    May 5, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Omg,this is so hilarious,singlets,shorts and winter boots,to d americanah to d did just hilarious

  27. Ello Bae

    May 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    Once I read “wanna ganna”, I knew this was going to be an interesting piece. I kukuma balanced well to read and laugh on this beautiful day that the Lord has made.

  28. The YHP Network

    May 5, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    NSG is my friend!

  29. sweetzie

    May 5, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Lollllll funny article ??? I’m at work laughing my idi (ass) off here?.

  30. Ibby

    May 5, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Exactly what happened to me last year at the Ikeja office..

  31. aj

    May 6, 2017 at 12:45 am

    lmaoooooooooo very funny article. I’m so nervous about getting a Nigerian passport in Nigeria now that you have shared your story…hopefully the one in Abuja isn’t too bad.

  32. yhetee

    May 6, 2017 at 4:58 am

    this is sooo bad.. so much backwardness

  33. Ranimar

    May 6, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    In february this year i decided it was time for a passport even though i have no travel plans in view. To save time, i inquired from a senior immigration officer who happens to visit my place of work frequently and was told of the requirements. Armed to the teeth, i marched into their office in my 6-inches stillettoes and name dropped 9ja style. whosai!!! I was told that even though i had it all very neat and tidy, i made the mistake of being too forward (in the sitting officer’s words) by paying at the bank the complete sum of N17,500 as stated on the website as the cost for the number of pages i needed. Last last…i found myself parting with the total sum of N34,250 just to get the passport for the “mistake” i made, bribes in bits and pieces despite name dropping for the so-called guaranteed express service assured me by their oga. It was very clear i was in for a 3 course meal(delay, frustration and rudeness). Could not ride it out because of my tight schedule at work, cannot have afforded spending weeks there as some people i met sitting on benches testified. Took me 7 days even after all the bribes given.

    Still gathering strength for drivers’ licensing office. Heard it is just as tough.

  34. Asos

    May 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    The Ikeja passport office has to be the worst. My experience last Friday will make an entire post of its own. I left there in hot tears & no passport at first. But thank God for long lost relatives & new friends we make in such desperate situations. The solution to Nigeria’s problem cannot be thought of even my Albert Einstein. Iranu country.

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