Day 2 at the visa office; here is the link to Day 1
I returned to the visa office the next day and everything went almost exactly as did yesterday. The metal detector was still silent. However I came early so I expected a shorter queue.
I entered the Visa-application submission office. My uniformed friend was there to greet and usher me in. He seemed happy to see me. We exchanged pleasantries; him in a native language and me in English (I guess everything is just like the day before). He gave me a queue number and there were only seven people in ahead of me. Now I had every detail right; the passport photographs, the photocopies and even the exact application fee.
I referred to the Nigerian official exchange rate that morning before leaving the house to calculate the Naira equivalent of the fees in Pound Sterling. Like a careful scientist, I gave room for error anticipating the retail exchange rate; I was generous with the error. The most I would have to pay should be about N122,000. My uniformed friend informed me that my number was up.
I approached the submission counter glad it wasn’t the rude staff from yesterday. My papers were checked and all seem to be in place. A payment teller was offered to me with the amount on it roughly N128,000. I called the staff’s attention to their mistake to which she cross-checked here reference and gave it back to me convinced she was right. It then occurred to me, the extra N5000+ naira must be their service charge. But they don’t mention this in the website (or it may be hidden in fine print) or anywhere around the office. I took the inflated payment teller in good faith and was proceeding to the next stage when a familiar voice called my attention… in a native language.
My uniformed friend seems the jolliest he’s been. He asked how my first stage went and offered me some words of wisdom on the virtues of patience. He must have thought of me as impatient (in addition to being dumb). He inquired if I was done with this first stage about three times during this brief exchange; as if he couldn’t believe it. As if he was going to miss me when I leave. I got the gist… but I wasn’t falling for it. I looked at him in the eye with a straight face and thanked him for his help, but he interrupted me as I was turning. He asked again in the native tongue “You know this means you won’t be coming back to this stage if you proceed”; hinting that I should “settle”/tip him for his troubles now because we won’t see later. I felt the slight pressure to reach in to my wallet and give him something but the rebel in me just looked at him with all honesty and I replied him: “I know”.
His face had a priceless expression which was a mixture of shock and disappointment. An interesting expression I thought I saw was also that of failure; failure to pamper me in to giving him money. Did I mention that he was calling me by titles that only a suck-up would call another person who is not your boss/master? I feel for him though. He probably does this for a living and gets more kickback from “settlements” than from his salary. But how could some unsuspecting target evade him like so, a target who seems so naive in his expectations of the system; and dumb as well.
I proceeded to the next three stages. Where I met another interesting uniformed friend, dealt with another hidden charge and took part in a corny-pretentious practice. But I don’t want to bore readers with my experiences on these particular incidents; I have written two blogs on it anyway. I could write a third blog to capture the rest of my adventures but only if someone interested requests. You must have been patient to read to this point. Thank you.