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Painfully Slow: Nigeria Immigration Service rated ‘F’ on speed of issuing Passports

You may have read my story, how I prayed, fasted and ran a thread on twitter before I got my passport after 1 month of toiling and 24hrs from missing my VISA appointment.

This traumatic experience showed me first-hand, just how severe the consequences of delayed issuance of passports can be. From missed opportunities and crashed dreams to emotional breakdown & money wasted on cancelling or rescheduled flights, the Nigeria Immigration Service has failed to live up to its responsibilities.

Recognizing how difficult it is for people to share such deeply personal stories, I created a twitter poll to help shed light on how Nigerian’s feel about Immigration’s speed of issuing Passports. After 2 days of voting and 1,024 votes, the results are in:

62% (more than 6 out of 10) respondents rated Nigeria Immigration Service as Painfully Slow.

By the time you add the 24% of respondents who picked slow, you have 86% of respondents who are convinced the Immigration Service is slow. Only 15% of respondents (fast & super-fast) believe immigration is truly fast and based on citizen feedback, we can conclude people in this category overpaid by a mile.

Still, paying more than the N17,800 official fee may not be sufficient to save you from Immigration stress:

The Nigeria Immigration service cannot continue to hold Nigerians to ransom. A friend of mine, after paying N35,000 was asked to bring another N15,000 so She can be placed on a ‘fast track’. Out of protest, She chose to stay put on the ‘slow track’. Another friend of mine paid for the 64 page booklet. After countless fruitless visits, She finally learnt it was not available and had to pay extra for another 32 page booklet (She is yet to get her passport).

We had to add ‘immigration’ as a category on Polivoice.com.ng after reports on passport cases spiked. And the immigration reports are all too similar. Polivoice was originally intended to connect citizens to elected politicians. Citizens report bad roads, poor power supply and the likes and elected officials take action based on this feedback but my ordeal at the hands of immigration officials revealed just how critical it is to provide a platform for anyone to report failure in public service delivery.

There is hardly anytime you walk into any immigration office without hearing ‘booklet Scarcity’. How do you know when to come for capturing or when to pick up your passport? You don’t. Except you have ‘sorted’ an officer or you put your life on hold and endure days or weeks of pointless visits to make inquiries, your file may be unattended and your passport may sit in one corner for weeks. Collection dates are rarely honoured and getting a VISA can be easier than getting a Nigerian passport.

The Minister for Interior and Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service cannot continue to ignore the pains of Nigerians. This is a service we are paying for. It’s time to put back ‘service’ in ‘Nigeria Immigration Service’.

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