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Renewing A Nigerian Passport In Canada: The Troubles And Lack Of Tech Advancement

About a month ago, I told one of my Canadian colleagues who sits right next to me at work about wanting to go Ottawa, Ontario to renew my Nigerian international passport, thereby looking for good deals on flight ticket, which he was able to get for me. Even though it was not entirely cheap. Local air travel in Canada seems to be on the high side.

He however sought to know if it was mandatory to physically be there before the renewal could be done, I affirmed. He was shocked as to why we needed to go to another province before we could renew our passport. He asked if they couldn’t devise a means to have it done and mail to us, rather than have people go all the way to Ottawa to get it done.

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I couldn’t agree with him less considering me and many other Nigerians here have been complaining about the same thing.

When I got to Ottawa airport today, the cab man who took me to the Nigerian embassy is from Ethiopia. We got talking and he sought to know what I was going to the embassy for. I told him and he was surprised I had to fly from Halifax just to renew my passport. I then asked how the Ethiopian embassy in Canada gets theirs renewed and he told me that no Ethiopian is mandated to physically be present at the embassy before a passport renewal is done, except the person wishes to be there. The Ethiopian embassy usually mail the passport to them after doing some verifications about the applicant, while the applicant pays for the courier, which totally makes sense. He went on to say how unfair and wasteful the Nigerian government is, making people flight down to Ottawa for a passport renewal. He went on to ask how much the flight was, how much I would have paid if I was to stay in a hotel, money for transport, food, e.t.c. Of course, I totally agreed with him considering how much I had paid for flight and other expenses my trip incurred plus the time.

These are feedbacks from Non Nigerians (an Oyinbo and a fellow African).

To say I feel embarrassed will be saying the least. The tech world has moved passed this level. I would have understood if people had to fly to Ottawa if it was a new international passport; but for a renewal, a physical presence shouldn’t be demanded since the Nigerian passport/immigration office has all passport holders picture, finger print and signature.

These are the exact thing we Nigerians in places outside Ottawa are complaining of. I mean in this age, Nigeria cannot deplore a tech solution to remove that hurdle for its citizens?

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Another trouble I had was making payment for my passport renewal online, it was a huge trouble. For days and even weeks sef, I kept trying and trying. I became frustrated at a point. This will be the first time I would have such hurdle making an online payment online since I got to Canada. I mean, online payment here is easy breeze, I wonder why it’s difficult for the Nigerian High Commission in Canada.

My husband’s previous passport also expired this month, so we had both planned to go to Ottawa to renew but he was in Nigeria in August, so he was able to renew his, else we would have both had to make the trip to Ottawa, imagine the cost and time.

I met many other Nigerians who came from different provinces in Canada for same reasons of renewing their passports. All complaining about the same issue, some came with their young children. So if my children’s passports get expired, we would have to travel to Ottawa to renew them and the painful thing is all our passport expires at different times.

Why do the government make life difficult for their citizens? Why do we refuse to advance in technology to make life better for the citizens? Why the snail progression?

My question is, if some of us get our Canadian passport now, why would anyone want to go through the trouble of flying to Ottawa to renew a Nigerian passport. Shebi, na to fashie Nigerian passport. Later, they will be preaching patriotism.

I had to take a vacation day from work, paid for flight and other expenses, left behind my family, plus the risk involved in air travel all because I want to renew my Nigerian passport.

Anyways, the good thing about the Nigerian embassy in Ottawa is that we got our passport the same day, without paying extra as it wasn’t the case when I got my 2 previous international passports in Nigeria. I never even knew the official cost of getting a passport in Nigeria because I always paid extra for ‘express’ passport (if you know what I mean). The way they treat people in the passport offices in Naija sef, na another story all together. Here in Canada, there is nothing like that (at least to my knowledge). The staff were nice and helpful.

I had taken my picture and done my finger print and before I returned from the mosque, my passport was ready and I remember the guy that gave me my paaasport was teasing me and asking where I went because my passport had been ready since. When I told another of my Nigerian friend who lives in Canada that I received my passport same day, he was surprised and said they have improved as it wasn’t the case some years back. Well, I hope they improve as far as not making us travel all the way to Ottawa to renew our passports.

I spoke extensively about this to one of the staff and she told me that the embassy has spoken to the Nigerian government about this and all it cost people to travel all the way to renew their passport, so the solution available now is for the High Commission to go to other provinces, provided the Nigerian association there writes to the embassy and they must have as many as 100-200 applicants wanting to renew their passport, so they do what they call Intervention, where they go to capture people’s image, finger prints e.t. c and mail out their passport later. Good solution but why do I have to wait for another 99 applicants before I can renew my Nigerian passport?

Anyways, main mission accomplished in Ontario, so I will be touring the province today and tomorrow before I head off to my base.

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