Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
Can you remember those moments when a process in Nigeria worked out exactly as it should? These moments, however few in between, are often easy to forget and even easily overshadowed by the many other processes that go from bad to who even-sent-me-message?
But the moments when things do work out in Nigeria occasionally pop up in our lives and can feel really good, so good we lowkey fear we are being scammed. It could be anything from not having to queue at a bank or getting an issue with your account fixed when the bank promised it would be fixed. It could also be getting to the airport without traffic slowing you down or getting a transcript without much problem, or receiving fantastic service at a government hospital.
To give you a sense of what we are on about, we spoke with six Nigerians on moments when things worked out for them as they should in Nigeria, and how that made them feel.
I recently processed my transcript with Unilorin and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) roughly at the same time. It was so easy with Unilorin and the transcript was sent to Canada within 2 weeks of the process, but with ABU even though a staff of the university is processing it for me, it’s been 2 months now and it just arrived from the department to the senate. I went to Unilorin for my postgraduate diploma transcript to be sent via WES to Canada for Verification and I needed to also send my BSC transcript to WES. I studied Economics At ABU Zaria and graduated in 2012. I had a classmate who works in the senate building and sent the money for my transcript processing, this fee was outrageous compared to what I paid for the Unilorin Transcript. For Unilorin I paid the sum of ₦20,961.25 and for ABU Zaria, ₦45,761.25 was collected for the transcript. I started the process on Tuesday morning at the Unilorin Senate. I paid via Remita, went to the bursar office to submit the receipt for confirmation, and also submitted my statement of result and was told to come back during lunch hour. When I came back, I was told to finish the process in the Post Graduate School and was also instructed to go to the DHL office and pay for delivery when the transcript is ready. I paid at the DHL Office, went to the PG School, filled a form for my details, and was told to be on the lookout. One week later, my local copy was sent to my office, the next week the main transcript was sent to Canada. I have never done some document processing as easy as that. With ABU, I just received a message that the transcript just arrived at the senate, a document I paid for since the 5th of December.
First off, let me just say that nothing in Nigeria works. A time when something did work without much stress, I had to bribe my way through it. It was at the immigration office, and I wanted to get an international passport. So I got a link to this woman who knows most of the immigration officers and uses her connections to help you fast track things. That is what she does for a living. She charged me 45k to get the passport that same day, ideally, the whole process costs about 20, 25k as at that time but I had to pay for the convenience and fast-tracking. Usually, the registration takes a day and the interview would be done the next day. Then you’ll have to wait for several months before the passport is ready. I did the registration and Interview and got the passport ready in just a day! I even remember having to bribe the person who interviewed me so he could stamp it, and some officers who took me here and there. I had to bribe my way into getting a system to work the way it should. No system set up by the government works here.
Last year, I got admission to a school in the US and of course, I had to send my transcript. I was stalling because I just expected that Unilag would stress me and I couldn’t deal at the time. I finally made the payment for my transcript and I kid you not, Unilag sent my transcript in less than a week. I didn’t have to call or send an email or fight or cry. I am still shocked!.
So in 2018, the government of Bayelsa state announced that they’ll be employing civil servants so I applied. I wrote the first exam (handwritten), after which I was shortlisted to write the CBT — this was a bit stressful sha cos we had to queue under the sun — but we meeuvve. I wrote the first exam in June/July 2018 and I got the job in January 2019. Normally, you would have to be connected to be able to get a job there. After I was given the job, the person who I had thought would help me find a way to put my name on the list told me I got the job on merit because he was having issues with the person that would have put my name on the list anyway.
Mine was when I registered for my National I.D card. It was in 2018 and it was pretty easy unlike the whole queuing and paying money you have to do now. I got to the place around 9 am and there weren’t that many people around. Within an hour, I was already putting down all the necessary details and I got the enrollment slip. I returned three days after that and collected the other copy. I did not expect it. I figured I was going to queue and be picking numbers as we did for the voters’ card. Relieved and surprised at the same time. It’s Nigeria, processes like that aren’t supposed to be fast or easy.
In January 2020, I was trying to travel and needed to change the name on my passport which required my birth certificate. The country I wanted to travel to wouldn’t give me a visa if the name on my passport didn’t match the name on other documents. So to get this done, I had to sign an affidavit from a federal high court. When I went there, I was asked to print some forms and to my surprise, the whole process lasted less than 15 minutes. After that, I went to the population census to get my certificate. I filled a form and submitted my affidavit, and in my presence, they typed the certificate out and took it to an office to stamp. Normally, I hear people say it takes up to a week to get through the process, but in my case, both processes were completed under an hour. I was lowkey scared it was fake because of how fast everything was, but it still felt good.