A day in Nigeria High Commission London
Certain things have to be done after you get married, e.g. changing your name with various government institutions which no one tells you in advance can be a bit of a pain and involve taking time off work to sort out. I think the most annoying of it is when you need to change your name with your banks, office, embassy, on your visa, driving license etc and they all asking for the original copy of the marriage license and it is like okay… I can’t give you the original right now because it is with DVLA. I quickly realised I had to prioritize and luckily, I am nearly at the end of my list with just one more important place to change my name.
That was what lead me to the Nigeria High Commission in London this morning. I woke up dreading the day I knew I was going to have there. I hope if I got there early enough, I would be done before lunch and make it back to work to work the rest of the afternoon. Obviously, a lot of other Nigerians were hoping the same thing too and as you would expect, the embassy was already packed when I got there.
I tried my best to prepare for today last night as I didn’t want them to have an excuse to not issue my new passport and make me come back another time and take another day off work to come and sit in the chaos of what is the embassy. So I double checked my list and printed and photocopied everything they asked for. Despite the fact their website isn’t the least help. For example, if you click here, it says to bring £25 pounds in postal order for the “service” and another £15 in postal orders for the “processing fee”. This is in addition to paying $60 for my new passport o. Ask me what the difference between the service and processing fee is and I won’t be able to tell you. However, on this same website, if you click here , it used to say bring £20 postal order payable to Nigeria High Commission (bear in mind they have changed the information on this part of their website probably because of the conversation I had with them today. I thought I was mad for a second, but luckily, I have it printed out, the page I printed yesterday). Despite the fact they changed it, there is still the discrepancy between the two pages. I also called them because I was so confused about how to go about changing my name on my passport and the lady told me to come with £25 postal order!
On this same website, if you click here, it says to come with a copy of your husband’s passport, however, if you click here, it says to come with your husband’s original passport. So you can imagine how annoying all these conflicting information was. I decided to take the maximum of everything they asked for. I went to the post office, bought £40 postal order in one £20, one £10 and two £5 just so if it was £20, and if it was £25 and £15, I had those options as well, I was in no mood to dash anyone money as they can’t give me change in postal orders.
Anyway, as I walked towards the embassy, my friend sent me a blackberry asking me for a copy of our wedding programme so she could get ideas for her wedding and I told her I was at the embassy and didn’t have the internet access to email it to her. She then goes “That place is a fraud hole, don’t pay the £20 for postal order” and I’m like, I have already bought the postal orders and what if they don’t attend to me without the postal orders, basically, I didn’t have time to waste arguing with them. She goes “didn’t you see it on the internet? It is a scam”. I just said there was nothing I could do about it, especially as their website asked for it and surely if it was a scam, they won’t advertise it publicly on their website.
I was greeted at the door by security with a “where are your documents?” What documents? I have a lot. He goes on to collect my folder from me and starts to search for my payment confirmation slip. I showed him the receipt I printed off and apparently, it wasn’t the same as the payment confirmation form. I had to go to the business centre in the embassy to get it printed. There were loads of people there already and only one woman surly attending to us. I asked if there was a queue and people just laughed and said no. So I tactfully assumed my position as close to the front as possible, when in Rome, behave like the Romans. There were people in front of me there for different reasons. Anyway, to cut the long story short, the gist of the matter was, to print out that payment confirmation sheet that I could have printed for free at home, I had to pay 30p to use the internet for 15 minutes plus a minimum of £1 to print (allows to print 5 pages).Basically, to print that one sheet of paper that does exactly the same thing as the receipt I printed, I had to pay £1.30. It did not break the bank but it is just the principle! After waiting for an hour to get my one page printed, I finally had my turn, printed it and went back to pick a ticket to wait for my turn.
Luckily, the wait was not so long, I had my turn, the man collected my documents and then asked me for £60 postal order! I was like shoo? In my head I am thinking, there is no way I am walking all the way to the post office to buy more postal order and then come back here and wait for my turn again. So I explained to the man, the website says £20 on one page and then £25 and £15 on another so I only brought £40. He then smiles and says they need to sort out that website and tells me not to worry. He kept my £40. 30 minutes later, I hear my name on the intercom so I went back to the window and the man gives me back £20 saying they are supposed to collect £40 extra pounds from me, however, seeing as there was a mistake on their website, they will give me back £20 pounds! I said thank you, collected my money and went back to wait.
Waited another 2 hours and then it was my turn for them to take my biometric details for my new passport. In the room I sat in, one of the staff announces that the little girl who went missing in the UK on Monday (I think) was dead! Click here to see the live updates of the police’s progress on her abduction. Immediately he announced that, my first instinct was.. where did he get that information from. On his screen, he was entering biometric details of the lady he was dealing, so I couldn’t see where he got that information from. Naturally, other staff members started spreading the news, majority of them really angry at the fact that innocent girl was supposedly dead. I thought it was such a shame that she was dead, but a part of me just didn’t believe it.
Imagine my surprise when I got home and saw on the news that they were still looking for her! More proof that some people relish is sharing bad news, despite the fact it may be false!
As a positive, the embassy has definitely improved, but we still have a long way to go. We will get there some day. Plus, they really need to be more transparent with the fees they charge people for their services. There is definitely something dodgy going on there.