By Yaya Ademola
SOMEDAY in the last quarter of 2022, I stumbled at this audio-visual advertisement on the social media, “Do you know that Nigerian Immigration Service has simplified the process of applying and processing the Nigerian Passport?
All you need to do is apply online. Choose your passport office for enrolment, make payment online, do not pay cash to anyone as NIS does not accept cash payment and ensure that you have National Identification Number (NIN) because it is mandatory for processing the enhanced e-passport. Secure your appointment day and print the appointment slip and visit your selected passport office only on appointment date. Take along your payment and appointment slips as well as other required documents specified on the website.
Please note that the timeline for processing fresh and re-issued passport is 6 weeks and 3 weeks respectively after successful enrolment process. For further enquiries, you can visit www.immigration.gov.ng or chart our customer care representatives by the chart room on the passport porter or better still, call +2348021819988. Our social media handles are twitter: @nigimmigration,facebook: @nigimmigration, Youtube: @ingimmigrationpro, instagram:Nigeria.immigration. This message is brought to you by the Public Relations Department of Nigeria Immigration Service”.
Ordinarily, I would have merely looked, listened and moved away. Why? Most advertisements are specially packaged by advertising agencies which, most often, may not necessarily reflect realities on ground. So, why should this be different? But my passport had expired and needed to be renewed. “If this advert is a true reflection of what is on ground, I may need to renew it immediately”, I was speaking to myself.
Accordingly, I searched further to know the cost of procurement and this I found, “The New Enhanced e-Passport (Validity and Cost): 32 pages valid five years is N26,000; 64 pages valid five years is N35,000; 64 pages valid 10 years is N70,000. NOTE: These prices only for three states: Lagos, Abuja and Rivers and all ages will pay same price for only these three locations.
For the rest of the 33 states, price is as follows: 32 pages valid for five years N17, 800; 64 pages valid for five years N12,000. Also, be aware you will be paying online, not like before that you pay exorbitant amount on counter based on who you know. If you are applying in Nigeria, you don’t need any immigration officer to help you. Pay online, print your receipts and forms online and go with all your documents to their office.
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Any documentary requirements that will be asked are specifically stated on the portal below: https://immigration.gov.ng/standard-passport. Then, when you want to apply online, click on fresh passport, if you have never had a passport. If you had a passport, click on renewal.https://portal.immigrastion.gov.ng/pages/welcome. MAY NIGERIA SUCCEED.”
Having read all these, I was overwhelmed. However, I still felt reluctant. “Let me find out first from my immediate neighbour whose son just ‘japa’ under the guise of “schooling abroad,” I further spoke to myself. In a jiffy, I was at his gate, banging it. My Neighbour: “Yes, who’s there?” Me: “It’s me, neighbour. Good morning o.” Neighbour: “Ah, good morning Daddy Arike. Just give me a minute. I’m coming, please.” He was talking through the window.
Within some seconds, he had appeared to usher me in with exchanged pleasantries as usual. Me: “My International passport has expired and I want to renew it. I have gone online to search and I found out that it is N17,800 for 32 pages of five years validity. Since your son just travelled last month, you should know better.
Hence, my visit this morning.” Having heard me, he burst into laughter and said, “Daddy Arike! You with your alakowe behaviour. Have you forgotten that you’re not in Ilu Oyinbo; you’re in Nigeria? Which online payment and processes can be trusted in this country? Anyway, if you’re serious in getting your passport renewed within four weeks or at most six weeks, it is N65,000. I have a contact who I can call immediately now. He is very trustworthy as he delivers at appointed date. He did Junior’s own.” Me: “Since I have an idea now, I will prepare the fund and get back to you when I’m ready. Thank you so much. I’m very grateful, Sir.” Neighbour: “You’re always welcome. My regards to madam and the children.”
When I returned home, I did my calculation and realised that I could procure three passports with N65,000 and still have extra. Without much ado, I went online via my phone and followed the processes and paid.
However, the N17,800 fee didn’t go. I, therefore, paid N25,000 and N1,000 charge, totalling N26,000 only. Appointment for capturing was not available until 18 days after which I booked. I was asked to choose between 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm and I chose the earlier.
On the appointed day for capturing, I headed to immigration office behind Department of State Security (DSS) office along Osogbo/Gbongan road, Osogbo, with my National Identification Number (NIN) slip, expired passport booklet, evidence of payment and application form and appointment date printouts.
On getting there, I was scared by the crowd of people seated. This was 11:00 am as my appointment time was 12:00 noon. I became more uncomfortable when I wanted to write down my name on the list of those who came for capturing. I was number 288! Having seated for 30 minutes, I was very sure that it could not get to my turn until mid-night. I just stood up and went to one of the offices labelled ‘Desk Office.’
Having explained myself to one of the officers, she said she had just left the hall where I claimed to be seated and had called for people who paid online to come for capturing without any response. Anyway, she asked me to sit down and attended to me. I was asked to supply two passport photograph and a file jacket which I got with ease at a corner business centre very close to the entrance gate. Back to their office, I handed over the materials to the officer in charge.
After about 30 minutes of working on my file, I was told that I could not be captured! “Why?” I asked. I was told that there’s a variation in my names as written in NIN and my expired passport. Let me make it clear. My old passport has my surname, last name and middle name while my NIN has only surname and last name. I was, therefore, advised to go back to NIN office to make correction to align the names. “Ok, I will be right back”, I said. I thought it was a slender matter. Having made correction at NIN office, it took two and a half months for it to come out. Not just coming out and printed, the corrected version must be dropped at immigration porter for further processes.
Having done this, I went back to immigration office and was asked to go and that I would be called on when to come for capturing. So, I left, almost frustrated. The following day, I received a call, asking me to come for capturing and didn’t spend 20 minutes on seat when it was my turn for capturing.
Assuming I didn’t have any issue with my NIN, everything would have gone smoothly as advertised. The lesson for those intending to procure new passport or renew the old is to ensure that there’s no variation in your NIN in terms of full names, date of birth and other bio-data.
Otherwise, you can’t process passport at any of the Nigeria Immigration Offices. Once your NIN is okay and you pay online, you don’t need to know anybody at immigration office to procure your passport with ease. With the inauguration of a new passport Production hub in Ilesa last month, it is safe to state that the timeline for processing fresh and re-issued passport of six weeks and three weeks respectively after successful enrolment process will minimise. This is a great stride that other agencies should emulate at this age of digitalisation.