Today my sister and I had to get our Nigerian passports done today. After the last few times I went to the Nigerian High Commission in London, I did not want to go at all but I had no choice. By God’s grace, I will be in Nigeria at the end of the month in time for law school. The past few times I went to the Nigeria High Commission were not fun at all! It was years ago though. I can remember one official shouting at me for some reason or the other instead of talking to me like a human being. I was so angry and frustrated, I cried. I went home and returned for the third time which ended up being successful. That’s an issue that Nigerians have had in the past, not being spoken to like human beings. Another issue was the lack of seats. It was so crowded, we were all like sardines in a tin!
That wasn’t all. The process of applying for the application was long. On top of applying, which is confusing due to the website, (that really hasn’t changed) I also had to bring a large folder of documents. If anything was missing, I would have to go back. This time around, I was confused about how to go about getting a new passport but I got there in the end. Paying for the application was another matter. It took me 5 or 6 times but the payment went through eventually. I think it was down to the banks though. Everything was complete. I had the interview date and knew the documents I was meant to bring. The only thing left was to go the High Commission.
I planned to get there by 8:30 but ended up getting there by 9:17. I saw the queue I had anticipated and thought “Here we go!”. Everything that happened thereafter was contrary to what I was expecting. Our documents were checked at the door and everything was ok.
If you bring the right documents, you won’t get any wahala (trouble)! Follow instructions and you won’t get any wahala either!
Some Nigerians do like trouble sha. 🙂 We were told before entering the building that all mobile phones should be switched off. Some chose to voice their frustration, more like argue their frustration loudly. One woman asked whether her phone should be on vibrate or switched off after we were told several times. Some people were told to walk back out of the building for not switching their phones off.
My sister and I got in with no trouble. I had told my sister the day before that we were going to be standing for a long time and I that I had read online that the minimum wait was going to be four hours. We went prepared with books (Americanah for me and Things Fall Apart for her) and things to eat and drink. When I entered the room, I was surprised. The Nigerian High Commission has changed! We had places to sit, everything was organised and they even apologised for a child crying and running about. I didn’t think it was necessary to apologise because she was a small child but it turns out that someone got up to complain which led to the apology.
A lady was pissed off:
“It’s because the chairs are dirty. They don’t want us to snap it and put it on Facebook!”
People (me included) were laughing. Not all of the seats were dirty. I was happy that I had a seat to sit on so I overlooked it. My seat wasn’t dirty though. It didn’t take long to be called to the counter. Our documents were processed quickly. We waited for a bit before being called to take our passport photographs and do the biometric detail process. The official that did mine was nice. He made a joke, I laughed. He told me to check for mistakes.
My sister had an interesting experience. Apparently, she was told:
“Why are you so excited? I have never seen someone so happy to get a Nigerian passport.” 😆 She told me she had been smiling too much. She was also told that she has the thumb of someone who sucked their thumb as a child. 🙂
The entire process took less than 2 hours and I enjoyed it. The Nigeria High Commission has changed for the better. They are more organised and applicants for passports and visas now go according to their appointment date. The officials were efficient and helpful when asked questions. I was pleased, especially, with the reduced waiting time. The embassy has improved greatly and anyone wanting to get a new passport or a visa will not have any difficulty (aside from the website) if they go with everything required.
Before I go, I would like to say that I was not under any influence when I wrote this! 🙂
Thanks for reading!