|Snapshot of the packed basement|
Anyway, we returned to the Nigeria High Commission just before the new year, this time armed with all necessary documents and even took along with us our marriage certificate, who knows if they might start demanding for proof that we're actually married!
On getting there it was the same experience of the previous week replayed; a cramped and crowded room, about 3-hour wait, poor customer service, no baby changing room, lack of disable/buggy access etc. I won't bore you with the details, if you didn't read the first part, you can go to this link.
While we were still waiting to be called, a female immigration officer came to the corner of the room where we managed to secure some seats after standing for about 30minutes. She was after a middle-aged man who was sat opposite us. She called out the name of the person she wanted to see as soon as she came close and the man stood up to go to her and she immediately instructed him, "seat down there", with a very rude tone. The man sat down without uttering a word. The next thing she said to him was, "where is your passport", again in a manner that was quite embarrassing to watch. Then she asked for his marriage certificate but wasn't happy with it for reasons I don't know. She started telling the man off, "why didn't you come with everything complete, in fact you're not prepared"...after stuttering for a few seconds, she asked him to follow her and away they went. I can only imagine the man himself had something dodgy about him that made him not to stick up for himself but does that give her any right to talk down on him in the way and manner she did? As soon as they left everyone around us couldn't believe what they had just watched play out in front of them.
We were finally called, after nearly 3 hours of waiting and followed a male Immigration officer upstairs to get the kid's photographs taken. This time it wasn't a long wait before we were called and attended to by another lady. She asked for my oldest son's name and other details which I told her.. She started questioning why we gave him a short version of his name, and this wasn't done as a compliment but quite arrogantly and patronising. She didn't even wait for me to respond and she started saying, oh, when they grow up now they will start running here to get their name changed and creating more work for us. To say I was stunned was an understatement. I told her in no uncertain terms that he is my son and it is my prerogative to give him any name I wanted. If he grows up and wants to change his name that is his choice but I refuse to be lectured about what is an appropriate name to call my child. As if that wasn't bad enough, my older son wandered to the table opposite us while my wife was getting something from her bag. This other lady just screamed at him, we were all shaken thinking he has done something outrageous. All he did was touch her computer mouse! I couldn't believe anyone could react to a 3year-old in that manner for only touching a computer mouse, absolutely ridiculous.
Anyway, we've successfully collected the passports, after all the hassle.
Having seen the way that place is run, I think they could do with some of these recommendations:
- Get some properly trained people to work there, many of them have no clue what it means to serve people. They need to be drilled to be courteous, polite and considerate and above all get some manners.
- Cut the waiting times to about 30-45mins, how do they achieve that? Quite simple, work out how many people visit on average in a day. It's either they reduce the number of appointments in a day or employ more staff and give them processing targets to speed up things.
- Consider moving to a different office or refurbish the current one to have buggy/disable access, have a family/children area, baby changing facilities
- Sort out their website to make it more easier to access information and make the information they put their explicitly clear. No need having a website for the sake of having one.
However, the basement area where they cramp people in is a health and safety risk. Instead of just complaining and doing nothing about it, the relevant UK authorities have been informed to hopefully compel them to put things right. I don't want other families to go through the same experience. Our governments need to start treating its citizens wherever they may be with some dignity.
God bless Nigeria.