Nigerian e-Passport Costs and Nigerians Abroad: A Classic Rip-off?

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As defined in literature (Wikipedia), a ripoff (or rip-off) is a bad deal. Usually it refers to an incident in which a person pays too much for something. A ripoff is distinguished from a scam in that a scam involves wrongdoing such as fraud; a ripoff, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder. A scam might involve, for instance, a scheme in which a person pays $20 for a startup kit related to stuffing envelopes for a living, but the kit never arrives; upon receiving the money, the recipient flees. A ripoff, on the other hand, might be a business opportunity in which a person pays $375 for bulk vending machines worth $75. The fact that the advertised product actually arrives – even though it is worth far less than the purchase price – makes it a ripoff, not a scam.

Not content with the daily looting of treasuries, bribes and all other forms of corruption perpetrated on the Nigerian people, home and abroad, it seems officials of the Nigerian Government, through the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has devised a very innovative way of ripping off Nigerians who live abroad.

It is the cost of the new e-Passport.

If you live in Nigeria, the cost of the e-Passport is 8,750 Naira. This, taking US$1.00 to be 175 Naira, and British £1.00 to be 250 Naira, translates to US$50.00 and British £35.00 respectively. Please note that there will always be fluctuations in the exchange rate every time.

If you are applying from outside Nigeria, the cost is US$110.00, translating to a whooping 19,250 Naira or British £75.00. It is outrageous. I do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that this a government trying to make money from Nigerians living outside the country on the misplaced premise that these set of Nigerians are making their money in hard currencies like the Dollar and the Pound.

What this means is that were I to be living in Nigeria, I could get two e-passports for two of my children instead of one, and still have change left.

I can understand if there is an add-on cost of maybe £10 to £15 to cover administrative costs of processing the e-passports from Nigeria and then sending them abroad in bulk, but charging well over twice the amount for the same product fits snuggly with the above definition of a ripoff.

Furthermore in the UK, as from 5th May 2009, the Nigeria High Commission will be adding £50.00 to the cost of the application to cover, as they said, administrative costs, since the $110.00 per e-Passport is repatriated directly to the Nigeria Immigration Service. This means the total cost of applying to have a Nigerian e-Passport in the UK will be £125.00.

This is one hefty sum, but because the mentality in Nigeria in general is that those Nigerians living abroad literarily pick money off the ground, from gold-lined streets or grow money on trees, this perception adheres even in the bureaucracy. And of course, knowing our government officials, they will probably embezzle the vast proceeds from their ripoffs, and only an infinitesimal amount of it will end up in the government coffers. Pardon me, but I just find it extremely difficult to trust our bureaucrats, civil servants and politicians, not to talk of the uniformed services such as Immigration, Prisons, Road Safety, Customs, and, you guessed it, the Police.

I will nevertheless give some credit and commend both the Nigeria Immigration Service and our Diplomatic Missions abroad for making the application for Passports a bit technologically modern, less arduous and less chaotic than previously, but the costs is a big concern, I am sure, to many Nigerians living abroad.

The application process itself could be revised. Before you can apply, you need to have a Google e-mail account. It is from your Google account that you can now go on to the Nigeria Immigration Service website and enter your details. Why force people to have Google accounts?

Another flaw in the application procedure is that when you scale through the application and payment processes, you are then allocated an Interview date. Unfortunately, what you are given is a date to attend an interview, bring in the required documents, but there is no Interview time given. This kind of makes it a free for all, because it means first come first served, and you may spend the whole day at the High Commission. This should be reviewed and put right.

Yet another great concern is that of security on the site. I had wanted to use another credit card to pay for the application for my daughter, because I was making two applications. The moment I completed the second applications and pressed “Payment Options”, the site immediately recognised my previous credit card and processed the second application using my first credit card, which I had no intention of using. It did not allow me to input my second credit card details, and just proceeded using my apparently stored first credit card without allowing me to change the details. This I find very alarming and dangerous.

So how do we complain about this rip-off deliberately directed at Nigerians living abroad?

Nigerians abroad can contact the Nigeria Immigration Service on http://www.immigration.gov.ng and email them at info@immigration.gov.ng or write them at Nigeria Immigration Service, Old Federal Secretariat Complex, Area 1, Garki , P.M.B. 38, Garki, Abuja or Fax them on +234-9-2341550.

We should also protest this ripoff to Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives and the overseeing Ministry of the Interior at their appropriate addresses in Abuja.

A concerted protest might help, but we should not just sit back and watch while they rip us off everytime.


Akintokunbo A Adejumo About Akintokunbo A Adejumo
Akintokunbo Adejumo, a social and political commentator on Nigerian issues, lives and works in London, UK. He is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1979) and University of Manitoba, Canada (1985). He also writes on topical issues for Nigerians In America and other newspapers and internet media including Nigeriaworld, Nigeria Today Online, Washington Nigerian Times, Wise News Today, etc. He coordinates Champions for Nigeria.

Posted in: Nigeria Matters

10 Comments

  1. John says:

    If I told you I had to spend $670 just for my round-trip flying to Washington, DC from Colorado. In addition, I spent $80 to overnight at a hotel in DC, plus another $85 for my car rental. Bringing my total cost to $835. I am not here to disrespect my country’s officials but for God in Heaven, why would I have to incur such costs? The throe is that these costs is been benefited by Americans and not by any Nigerians. I am pretty sure that most Nigerians here in the U.S living in the South, Northwest and Southwest would have incurred same cost in the name of “e-passport”. E-passport my foot! Stop this nonsense!

    Why in the world would three Nigerian consulates, which includes the embassy in Washington, DC be situated in the same region of the country(United States)? All consulates are in Eastern or south-eastern part(in the case of Atlanta) of the country…to carter for whom? Only those living in these geographical regions? Which leaves us in Houston, Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, Seatle, Portland, Los Angeles,e.t.c., to fly all the way to New York, Washington, DC and Atlanta to process our passports/visas. Please, Chief of Mission H.E. Amb.Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, think this through and move the consulate in New York to Denver or Los Angeles, I understand we don’t have a lot nigerian communities in either of these cities but, such a strategic location would provide services for all Nigerians and immigrants living in Dakotas, Illinois, California, Washington State, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Nebraska, Ohio, Minnesota, e.t.c. Now, the location in Atlanta should be relocated to Houston…this location will take care of the largest Nigerian population who live in Texas, particularly Houston and Dallas, and all others in the South. How difficult is this? It helps everybody and I bet you, this huff and ado about e-passport will go away. I am disappointed. I usually don’t comment or chime in on blogs but, sometimes you have to tell our official how to do things right.

  2. 9jagrrl says:

    Hey Gamji

    I don’t understand the correlation between “..the question is am I to pay the same amount as new, for that?” and the rest of the paragraph. What is your point? By the way I do not mean this question in a derogatory way.

  3. Dimie says:

    You said the truth of the matter. Its just sort of a shame to our country

  4. tejiri says:

    i am really appalled that the nigerian government would make such a bold move without informing the general public especially those of us in diaspora. i heard about this new e passport thing from a friend and would have never heard about it otherwise, no emails nothing notifying us that we need to change our passport. i am especially mad because i just renewed my passport last year and had no idea about this. i dont know why the government did not start issuing the e passports automatically to people who got a new passport. i feel like the embassey is really trying to rip us off…and money def does not fall on trees…the fact that i am abroad does not mean i am living in luxury i work hard for my money and do not have time to throw away money for no good reason. and the the fact that we pay double the fee is even more outrageous…and that person who is trying to justify the currupt system by saying that no one pays the exact fee is getting on my nerves big time….this is why our country will continue to be the way it is…people accept the status quo and live in silence…was gonna email the embassey but the embassey in canada is the most incompetent embassey ever….i dont even want to begin to say how truly incompetent the nigerian embassey is ….they never answer thier phone and when they do the person on the other end is just rude rude rude….anyways..i am going to call the nigerian embassey tommorow and demand a refund for the stupid invalid document they issued me last year, knowing fully well that it was going to be invalid in less than a year…i am so mad…i am even more embarassed to call myself a nigerian…the ghanian government is doing the same thing, they are giving thier citizens until 2015 and are gradually phasing it out…ie not issuing any old invalid document…now i trully wish that i was ghanian…why did the british not juts mistakenly redraw the map to include my state in ghana…nigeria is trully a disfunctional counrty and just thinking about that country elevates my blood pressure and heart rate…anyway thats my little tidbit….the embassey would probably not refund my money and the person that would answer would probably be rude but its worth the try….oh well…i sigh…what can we do….

  5. Ifeanyi says:

    Truly, it all happens and has continued to happen. Buy You and I can make a change. When last did you pray for Nigeria. 2011 is around the corner; have you taken time to pray for the new leadership that will emerge?

    Remember; Righteousness exalts a Nation, but sin’s a reproach to any people. “But if My people which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, and forgive their sins and heal their land”. That is what the Word of God says. Let’s take it back to God, and then play our own role well. How do you treat your next neighbour? Do you hike your prices or hoard goods during scarcity? Let us do individual check ups, please! It will soon be over. A righteous government must soon be in place, if…

  6. chy says:

    i hate that country, i wish i am not part of it. the only thing i miss is my family, nothing else.

  7. Gamji says:

    Well, this is well written and YES Bubbles you can get your passport for N8,750 cos i did, As my passport issued in the UK had mistake on DOB, i ravelled to Nigeria then noticed the fault and requested for re-issue…. the question is am I to pay the same amount as new, for that?

    It is not the NIS that is corrupt….it all of us, once you get in to Nigeria it just happen.

    It is quite unfortunate, but someday we will make a better place

  8. Bemgba Nyakuma says:

    This is a well written piece that gives an important issue some space in our national reason. However, as someone has rightly pointed out already, Nigeria is rotten inside out and the NIS is not left out. In fact I think it’s one of the most corrupt bodies in Nigeria where extortion is the rife. Sometime ago I went to the NIS with a relation to get a new passport but was told we have to wait two weeks, only for one of them to accost me outside the gate with the proposition to “settle” them so that it can be “ordered” from someone mysterious place. Out of desperation we paid the “settlement” and got the passport the next day in the morning. It’s sad, truly sad.

  9. Bubbles says:

    I don’t know why you guys are complaining. If you were in Nigeria, you could NEVER get your passport at N8,750 without (a) knowing someone who (knows someone who knows someone) who works in the immigration office, (b) paying through your nose to get it done within a reasonable amount of time without having to (c) bribe the immigrations officials who just want something from you otherwise you’ll be presented with impossible requests or tossed back and forth untill you beg or they think you’ve suffered enough.

    Either ways at the end of the day you would have parted with a sum thats much more than the actual cost of the passport. Nigeria is rotten inside out, makes no difference whether you’re in or out of the country you’ll still suffer the same fate.

  10. Tomi Benson says:

    I live in Austria and if you happen to lost your Nigeria passport,geting a new one here will cost you like 500 to 600 hundred Euros

    AND THIS IS REALLY A RIP OFF

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