December 15, 2017

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How much does a Nigerian passport cost? – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

How much does a Nigerian passport cost?  – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Simple question isn’t it? Wait o! Not very simple here in Nigeria.

I have had numerous experiences processing mine, my sister’s and my son’s.

Let me share my renewal experience last year.

I had an impromptu trip to take and my passport had just expired. I asked my husband how much his renewal had cost and he said N25,000. I heard there was a new immigration office close to my office. A co-worker had just gotten one and he told me it cost him N22,000.  Since I had a rough Idea I went to the office. At the gate, some immigration officers interrogated me on what I wanted. I was a bit confused and I asked them if I could get my passport renewed and they said I could, then they asked

nigerian-passport-specimen

“Is there someone helping you?”

I felt the dormant stubborn streak I do not admit exists in me begin to rise. I asked them why I needed to have anyone ‘helping’ me. Wasn’t I supposed to walk in and start the process? They got angry and you could see they were out to deal with me. So,  they wrote the website address for me and said I had to start from there. I called their bluff and went to a café immediately. I filled the forms and proceeded to the bank. Not many branches ever handle immigration fees payments. I will explain shortly. I finally found an Ecobank branch and made the payments. THE PASSPORT COST ME N9,225 bank charges inclusive. This made me strengthen my resolve not to give anyone any money. I went back to the immigration office. As I entered, I met a man at the door. He asked me what I wanted. I told him I just wanted to know what was required to renew my passport. He then said

“Wait for me outside, I will get someone to help you.”

I went outside and then a stocky dark girl not in uniform introduced herself as Bose. The Immigration officer peeked out of the office to tell me that she was the person who would help me. She collected my printouts and said I had to buy a file, which I did. She walked to some shacks within the premises (Cafés apparently). They had the template for me to apply for the passport which they printed for me. She then asked me if I knew how much it would cost.

“Aunty, your money na N5,000.”

I told her I didn’t have any money, she quietly handed my documents back to me and strolled away without a backward glance. The immigration officer asked me what the problem was, I told him I didn’t have money to pay. He asked me if I was planning to travel out. How wouldn’t I have any money? He even asked me where my husband worked and told me to go and get the money from my husband. I refused and he said he couldn’t help me.

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I walked to the reception. And it took a long while before anyone would attend to me. You need to understand that loads of people were there for their passports, but they were all sitting down while the officer they knew was working it out for them. The woman at the reception asked the same question

“Who is helping you?”

I told her I was doing it myself. She asked why I was. I told her I could not afford any extra charges. She called me behind the counter and looked at me. She said I couldn’t tell her I didn’t have any money. She asked where I was working. I told her I was a civil servant. I told her I was waiting for my salary. She then promptly ignored me. Some Officer came with some files and saw me standing helplessly. He then asked me

“Who is helping you?”

And the story continues. After explaining to him, he decided to look at my file. He then scolded me for doing it by myself. He said that people don’t know how to do it properly by themselves. He said a page was missing and I had to go back to where I did it. I then went to the café outside and a guy agreed to print the missing page for N500. I went back inside and ran into the first officer. He asked me how much I could afford for them to help me. I told him I didn’t have anything. He told me that he couldn’t spend his money to assist me because there was no way I could get my passport without giving something. He then said he would do me a favor and get the application for a passport approved but that was all he could do. He got it approved and I thanked him profusely for doing what was probably his job. He directed me to the next desk. And the question came without fail

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“Who is helping you?”

I got lucky when I was sent to a desk and I heard someone speaking Hausa in that office. I immediately told the Hausa man to help me in Hausa. I told him I couldn’t afford their fee. He then called a younger officer and instructed him to help me. That was how I got to the data capturing stage without dropping any money. The person in charge of the files for capturing proceeded to ask the same question.

“Who is helping you?”

He was amazed that I had gotten that far on my own. I told him I did not have anyone helping me. I asked him when my passport would be ready and then when he spoke I knew they had me by the jugular. He said that it would take a month or so. He proceeded to say they were expecting materials from Abuja and he did not know when precisely it would be ready. My ticket had been bought already. I was 2 weeks away from my trip and my visa was expiring in about 6 weeks from that day. I could not chance it. I asked him how I could get it sooner. He then said N3,000. I tried to bargain and he wouldn’t shift. When I paid him, I asked when I could get the passport. He then asked me to come back the next day by noon. (The materials miraculously arrived at that point.)

I collected my passport the next day without incident.

Do you know why most bank branches listed as collectors don’t have any experience processing immigration fees? Because almost all payments are done by immigration officers “helping” people. They almost always use particular branches for this.

I have never seen an immigration office where the actual cost of the passport is published on their boards. You usually haggle the fee with the officers.

My sister just paid N30,000 for a passport which is now officially N15,000.

If you are below 18 and over 60, the passports should cost less. I have paid full price for my one month old son before.

Conclusion. If no one is helping you, please find a bible believing church to attend, you will need God’s help in Nigeria

 

Radi8
InnJoo Reborn

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7 Comments

  1. Syl Oje

    I couldn’t help but laugh after reading this. Now I am almost tempted to do it by myself next time I want to renew my passport. The problem is: I don’t speak any major Nigerian language. What if I run into a hitch and I need to plead with the officer in his or her own native language? I guess part of the problem is that we all just assume that it can’t be done without someone helping us or we are too in a hurry to endure the delays. If we all decide we will all go the official route, no matter how long it takes to get it done, I believe the officers and those fronting for them will be out of business in no time. But, again, that is easier said than done.

    Reply
  2. Victoria O. Akinwale

    This is not a surprise to me. I worked faithfully & diligently for Nigerian Govt for 20 good years of my life. I retired as Deputy Comptroller of Prisons in 1996. I did not owe Nigerian govt 5000 Naira as expenses (for hotels accommodations or as transpotation allowances; as a Senior officer, I was making official trips, using my personal car & staying with family & friends) apart from my normal salary in 20 years. I have never been bribed or given one out. Just because of your kind of story, I refused to head Passport Office Ibadan in 1982 then I was sent to replace a colleague at Customs Dept; I refused both posting. People said I was refusing seats other officers always lobbying to get but I did not want to tarnish my reputation or get killed (unless u are just a figure head). I did not have any other choice than to head Administrations of Immigration Services with a Comptroller as my only boss at Ibadan office. Up till now, I have not started receiving my pension since 1996 just bcoz I refused to pay them for my file to be brought out of the Archive. I know eventually, I will collect all my entitlement. I don’t have money but I am blessed.

    Reply
  3. Rhoda

    Am not surprised. I want to get one for my younger sister and I am being told it would cost me 27000 naira. Yet our leaders would turn a blind eye to this type of criminal activity.

    Reply
  4. chinenye

    I love this piece Biodun you write well thumbs up! Had to pay #25,000 for mine I pray something will be done about it.

    Reply

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