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DIARY: Praying, fasting, whistleblowing… extreme ways to secure the Nigerian passport

Guest Writer


Do you have a passport? A Nigerian Passport? Congratulations!

You are one of the lucky few who have endured the torment of queuing up for hours, days, weeks and sometimes months to secure a passport for the official fee of N17,800.

If you don’t have the patience for queues and weeks of meaningless visits, paying an official as much as N40,000 will guarantee you get your passport the same day or at most, in 3 days (depending on the state).


Apparently, I thought I could “do it on my own”. I made the grievous error of paying for my passport renewal online on January 4, 2019. Here is a quick rundown of how the immigration service has frustrated my life.

January 4:

Paid for Passport renewal online (a big mistake as not paying in cash and paying through your nose means your passport renewal/procurement process can take forever).


February 19:

I went to submit my old passport at the Oyo state command, and filled some forms. I was not told a capture was needed. I was only told to come back next week.

March 1:

I went to ask about my passport. Told to come back next week.

March 4:

Visited: no booklet, no passport.

March 6:

Visited and accidentally learned I needed to be captured (it was my first renewal ever). After nearly six hours of waiting, I was captured (picture taken and biodata captured on the portal). As I would later learn, allowing them to capture me when they were already complaining about booklet scarcity was another mistake because once you are captured, you cannot cancel or transfer to another state.


March 11:

Visited: no booklet, no passport.

March 13:

Visited, no booklet, no passport. I met with several officials who advised I meet with the Comptroller. I did meet and He asked me to meet with the official in charge. He was not on seat. The very next day, someone else was occupying the same seat and He did not attend to my request. Meanwhile, a friend told me his brother secured a passport at the Oyo state command within 4 days after paying N27,000.

March 15:

Visited, no booklet, no passport.

March 20:

Visited, no booklet, no passport.

March 25:

Visited twice. On my first visit, the officer I met told me they were attending to backlogs. No time for my passport. The comptroller was on his way out, I could not meet him. I went back by 3:30pm. He told me the person in charge is not on seat, I should check back when He returns. I asked another official who told me the said official had travelled for a marriage ceremony in faraway Kano. Another official asked me the Church I attend, and advised I start praying and fasting. Another official asked me to take my grievances to Servicom. Yet another official encouraged me to take to twitter.

In between these visits, I made countless phone calls to friends, family and immigration officials asking for help. Nothing has worked.

Why do I need my passport badly?

I have been selected as one of the top 24 entrepreneurs in the world with game-changing social enterprise ideas in the GIST TECH-I competition organized by the US Department of State. My flight is booked for April 13. Hotel booked. But I have no Visa. Why? I have no passport. I have also been selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow. I also need to submit my passport by the 27th of March (for Mandela Washington fellowship) and 28th of March (to process my Bahrain Visa).

Every time I visit the Oyo state command, I take along documents, explaining how I am going to be representing Nigeria in Bahrain for GIST TECH-I and why I need my passport badly. It seems I have been speaking Greek and the immigration service has left me no choice but to cry out to Nigerians to save me.

I have a few questions for the Comptroller General and the Comptroller in Charge of Oyo State:

Why is the immigration service always running out of booklets & dealing with backlogs?

Why are immigration officials immune to deadlines & genuine emergencies?

Why must an entire command stand still because an official is not around?

Why must I need to know someone who knows someone before I can secure my passport?

Why do I need to pay 2X or 3X the official rate before I secure my passport?

Why do I need to pray and fast, trend on twitter or write a diary such as this before I get my passport?

I have deadlines looming.

I am a law abiding citizen. No criminal records.

I am travelling to make Nigeria proud.

Immigration service, give me my Passport.

Who is Ogunbowale?

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a digital skills expert. An alumnus of Enterprise Development Centre, He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University.

Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded Epower.ng, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa.

A YALI star of business and fellow of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, He is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society (formerly December to Remember) and a co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Olugbenga plans to focus on equipping youths with digital-skills as well as connect elected leaders with electorates to reduce unemployment and foster national development.

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