After hearing people lamentation of the frustration they normally encounter when they apply for international passport through their website, I was discouraged. I went to their twitter page and asked some series of questions and was encouraged to apply. I started the application online in my house in and when I applied for 5 years passport, only the standard e-passport of 15,000 appeared. I continued and pay a total payment of 17,800 (600 being online processing fee).
I printed out all the necessary copies of application form, guarantor form, payment receipt, acknowledgement form and saw that my interview date was 5 days ahead of the day I applied.
The next day, I went to a friend and photocopied the data page of his international passport, driving license and NIN. He signed at the necessary places which included my two passports. I also photocopied my affidavit of age paper and LG identification letter and waited for the interview day.
On that day, I drove to Enugu state high court which is close to the Federal secretariat where the immigration office is situated and paid a sum of 200 (Two hundred naira) for the Commissioner of oats endorsement, bringing my total payment to N18000.
I moved straight to immigration office and told them that I had interview with them. They asked about my “helper” I simply told them that I applied online. I was directed to one office where I submitted my file ( I bought office file and enclosed all the forms inside it).
About 10 minutes later, the lady called and asked me to take my file to “account” and that is where a drama wanted to play itself but I was ready for anything. Immediately the guy saw my file, he almost hissed and said “self payment” and asked me to stamp it. I went outside and fortunately saw one of them who was selling 50 stamp, I bought one and stamp on the payment form and went back to the office.
The guy said “okay, the self payment guy, give us N100”, I wanted to ask why but gave him the one hundred naira and my file was given to me 10 minutes later. I went back to the first office where I was asked to fill two forms which were attached to my file and sent to the interview room. I was later called for the interview. Truly, the interviewer asked some funny questions and insisted that my forms were not properly filled, I stood my ground and almost read the entire paragraph for her. She quietly submitted my file for enrolment and I eventually did my biometrics.
While waiting for my biometrics, I discovered that of more than 50 people that gathered under the shade, that I was the only person whose file was not being handled/helped by any immigration officer, which means I was the only one that paid online. Other people there paid between 35,000 to 40,000. According to them, express (two days delivery of passport) costs between 35,000 to 40,000 while normal delivery cost 30,000. I simply laughed and waited for my turn. While doing the biometrics, I saw that the computer recorded 5 days ahead as my collection date. I quietly left the office. In my mind, I wanted to give them 2 weeks.
Fortunately, about 12 days later, I had a business to transact in Enugu State High Court and decided to check for the passport. On reaching the immigration office, I told them my mission and 10 minutes later, the passport was handed to me which was actually printed exactly 6 days after biometrics. Funny enough while waiting for the passport, the four persons before my turn where asked to buy passport cover of N1000 (one thousand naira). When I collected mine, I asked the lady if there was any other thing, she simply said no and waved me off. I smiled.
From the foregoing, the online application took 11days from application to collection.
Lessons I learnt while waiting for my biometrics
• Most Nigerians are unaware that passport application can be done online.
• Some Nigerians are afraid of making mistake if allowed to initiate the process by themselves
• Many Nigerians are convinced that the online process is a scam which can simply be ignored by the immigration officers (Some of the officials themselves are also guilty of this as they threaten to delay the passport or even interview date between 2 – 6 months, which is a big lie).
• Move with confidence. Let them be aware that you know what you are doing. You will hear phrases like “self payment applicant”, simply ignore them as there is nothing like community or communal payment in passport processing. If you are delayed or asked to pay any additional cash, simply tweet to @nigimmigration (the guys incharge of twitter handle are efficient).
• Lastly, I will not call the immigration officials scammers or corrupt people because you pay them for services rendered. Among the document you need to photocopy for the interview include photocopies of your guarantor’s driving licence, NIN or data page of international passport and your own affidavit of age/birth certificate. Some of the immigration officials initiate the online process for the applicant and provide the guarantor photocopies of necessary documents.
• Amazingly, right at the passport office is a warning that applicants should not pay cash but transact online payment.
• Some of us are in a “hurry” and do not want to stress ourselves. The lady that sat by my side would be using her passport in 6 months time and she was also in a hurry.