Update: A day in the Nigeria High Commission
Following my experience a few years ago, which I cannot say was categorically bad but could have been better, I wasn’t looking forward to going back. However, I had to sort out my son’s passport so I had absolutely no choice.
What gave me so hope though was the comments I had been receiving in the last few weeks on my ‘A day in the Nigeria High Commission’ post, which sounded more positive, like things had definitely improved. So I decided to go back with an open mind and updated my blog accordingly, hence this blogpost.
I went back on the Tuesday of this week and I must say that things have improved. However, I wish they had step free access. Thankfully I went with my husband and he was able to carry the baby buggy up and down the stairs as required. I can promise you that no one will offer to help you. So just go prepared to carry your buggy yourself. I saw a lady who didn’t even bring a buggy for her daughter. Very smart woman. She just wore her baby bjorn and positioned her daughter in it and walked in and out of the embassy freely. Lol I made a note to myself to do that the next time I have to bring a baby to the embassy.
The irony however is that there is a lift in the building! However, the lift is enclosed behind the staff cubicle, so only staff members can use the lift! *sigh* I rest my case. I have nothing further to say about that.
Back to the issue at hand. So we got there late, thanks to looking for step free access to get to the embassy seeing as the direct train from London Bridge to Charing Cross is no longer running for the rest of the year, and the lifts on the jubilee line in London Bridge are also not working. PS: if you need step free access, plan before hand or make sure there is someone that can go with you to help you with your buggy or wheelchair. When I say late, I mean we got thre around 10:30am. The man at the door checked the documents and let us in. We proceeed to go downstairs where we approached the man with the tickets. He looked at my husband and said that he cannot give him a ticket until he sees a permission from my son’s mother for my husband to apply for a passport on behalf of my son. At which point I stepped forward and said I was his mother, so he gave us a ticket. Now let’s pause here. What do you guys think about this? That I have my husband permission to apply for a passport does not mean that I gave him permission to take our son out of the country. But I guess without a passport he won’t be able to take him out. I also guess they have to deal with all sorts to people everyday so they have to assume every one has dodgy intentions.
As we walked in, I spotted a friend in the waiting room, who went to on explain he was there the day before with his niece and they sent him back because he didn’t have her birth certificate. I would hate to be sent back home only to come back and start the process all over again. Thankfully, my organised husband had brought over and beyond all the documents they could possibly ask for, even our marriage certificate.
The good thing was his, we spent only two and a half hours there, we were attended to promptly. A tip for those going in the future, when you pick your number just sit still. Because if they call your number and you don’t respond , they move on to the next number.
I remember one of the people that commented on my last post about the NHC that she said there was now a restaurant in there. This is true. I didn’t not go there but while we were waiting for our biometrics to be done, a lady came to announce in the waiting room upstairs that there was a restaurant downstairs that sold pounded yam, Amala etc for 5 pounds a dish and we should go downstairs via the corridor opposite the toilet and if we get lost, we should follow our nose.
We were also grately entertained in the upstairs waiting room, watching our first lady’s visit to Ondo state. I didn’t realise Onyeka had sang a song for her, somethingg along the lines of don’t call me Patience, call me Mama Peace! Ah! It was a catchy tune sha. Mama Peace looked hot and bored sha. I guess it didn’t help they were mostly speaking a language she did not understand.
Anyway, all in all, it was a positive experience. However, There is still that need of the staff having an opinion about your choices or your misfortune though, which truly isn’t their business. For example, what is the guy at the door who checks your document to let you in business about whether or not you always lose your Nigerian passport but never your British passport. Has it ever occurred to them that it is relatively easier to renew your British passport than the journey you have to make to naija house to listen to their chastisement before you can get a new passport?
Hopefully in the future we will be able to apply by post for baby first passport or post them our passport photograph for them to issue our passport. The only downside would be that a lot of people in that place could end up losing their jobs.
Please note that this blog is based on my own experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences here.