Pamela Adie is a Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out, a global LGBT advocacy organisation. She is also a writer and an LGBT Rights Activist. She is dedicated to expanding the rights of LGBT people in Nigeria.
Everyday Nigerians will say Buhari/government is making life difficult for Nigerians. It could be true, but I strongly disagree. WE are making life difficult for ourselves.
We treat each other like the other means nothing. We are only interested in getting money and once that is done, we do not really care much about anything else. I have always known this, but today confirmed it.
My woes started when I got to the airport this morning. I walked over to the check-in counter on Kenyan Airways and upon checking my passport, the officer told me I needed the yellow card indicating that I have vaccinated against yellow fever, which I believed had been eradicated. I had NO idea I was to get that card, otherwise, I would have gotten it a long time ago as I had over a month to prepare for this trip. Nowhere in the visa or ticketing process was this ever mentioned.
The other officer says if I go and come back, I will not meet the check-in. She requested that my passport was stamped to enable my check-in before I proceed to get the vaccination. She does that and I go to the check-in process.
Apparently, the vaccination center is close to the entrance of the airport, so I requested an Uber.
After flipping my passport and looking at my reservation on his screen, the attendant says since my ticket was purchased with a credit card, they need to see the card. I let them know I do not have the card, but I have a signed letter of authorization from the person who bought the ticket. Luckily, I printed it out last night. I handed it over to him. He looks at it and says they need to see the card or photocopy of the card. I opened it on my phone and showed them. But they insist I have to print it out. WHY?
“That’s the procedure, madam.”
“Do you have a printer?”
“Where can I print?”
“There is a business center behind you. Print it there.”
I go over to the center, ask them for their email, send it to them, and the lady says to print ONE page is N1000.
ONE FUCKING THOUSAND NAIRA. Compared to N100 outside.
“Ok. No problem. Do you have POS?”
“No, ma. You have to go to the ATM. Our girl will follow you.”
By this time she had already given me the printout. I said ok, let me go give it to the airline and then I will go use the ATM.
“No, ma. She is on duty. She cannot follow you around.”
How inconsiderate, despite explaining the urgency of the situation to her. Anyway, in spite of her insistence on getting the money right there, I proceed to the counter to show the airline staff the print-out they asked for.
“Madam, you have to take it to our ticket office down the corridor. They will attend to you.”
WHAT THE FUCK????
Ok. I go to the office, and the girl from the printer is still following me. I ignore her. The lady in the ticketing office collects the papers I have for her, then asked that the person sends their data page to prove that this is not fraud.
OH DEAR MY!
“Madam, the person who bought this ticket is in America. They are asleep now. They cannot send data page of their passport. In fact, the person is probably in transit to Kenya as we speak. It will be impossible for me to make the flight if we have to wait for them to send the data page of their passport.”
“Ok. Let me see.”, she says and walks to her supervisor to talk to him.
At this point, I’m thinking I should go get the vaccination card while they work on this issue. I ask if I could do that and she says yes.
I proceed to the ATM and get 1k for my by-force bodyguard. Then my Uber started calling me and threatening that because I am not outside, I should cancel the trip because he has nowhere to park.
“Oga, haba! By the time you go round and come back, I will be outside. Please.”
He picks me up and we head to the center.
“Madam, you have to register your passport and then make a photocopy of your data page”
“Ok. Do you have a printer?”
“No. You print outside.”
Not minding that it is raining, I go outside to print. I see other people trying to print. We were not allowed to enter the place where the printing will take place. We had to hand over our passport to someone else to go in and print for us.
I wait around for a while for the attendant to come. She comes and we all rush to her. She collected our passports and says it will cost N100. I pay cash. After a little while, she returns with the print-out.
The vaccine costs N1000. The nurse rudely asked us to fold the printout and put the 1k inside. No problem. We comply. About 10 of us get vaccinated, leaving about 10 more waiting. The nurse enters the room where the cards were bring prepared. I looked at the time and it was fast running. I knocked on the door and I am told to come in.
I explain my situation to the unassuming nurse and she quickly looked for my card and begins to attend to me. I thought “Wow! This is the most pleasant nurse I have ever seen in Nigeria.”
Next thing, she says:
“Pamela, you cannot fly today because for COB you need to wait for a month. So, pay N1000 and I will backdate it for you so that you can fly today. That is what that policeman you saw here came to do”
“Sorry ma, I don’t understand. What is COB?”
She doesn't respond and continued writing. I’m still waiting for the answer.
“Didn’t you hear me?”, she shouts. “I say pay N1000 so that you can travel today.”
“But ma, I have already paid 1k outside….”
“Pamela, I thought you said you are in a hurry. You are not sharp at all. Are you going to pay the money or not?”
I reluctantly bring out the N1000 and drop it on her desk. She picked it up and drops it into a plastic bag full of money. Now, remember we are at least 20 people traveling today and we are waiting to be vaccinated.
20 x 1000 = N20,000 CASH. For just our batch. This is a daily occurrence. Imagine her income from bribery.
“Come and sign here”, she yells.
“ Ah ah, madam. Take it easy.”
I sign and leave very angry and frustrated, but happy that I got this card, albeit about an hour later.
I get to the airport. The check-in counter is closed. My suitcase is not where I left it and all the officials are gone.
WHAT IS THIS LIFE?
I went to the ticketing office and the lady was waiting for me with my boarding pass.
“Why are you just coming now?”
“Madam, is this a trick question? I told you I was going to get the yellow card and you said it was ok.”
“Eh, but I thought you were just going to collect the card”?
How will I collect the card without getting vaccinated? I just collected my card and proceed to pass through security gates without saying another word. I looked at my boarding pass and realized there was a luggage claim tag on it. So I figured they have already checked me in.
When I got to the gate, the officer who told me to go get the yellow card asks:
“Ah, madam, where have you been”?
Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Looking really annoyed, I still managed to muster a polite response,
“I went to get the vaccine you people asked me to get.”, and just kept on walking. Then he says
“You won’t even thank me for checking in your suitcase….”
The holy spirit I don’t believe in stopped me from replying rudely.
I just walked past, got searched, entered the plane completely exhausted, angry, flat, and VERY hungry.
*** *** *** *** ***
Nigeria is designed to kill a person. As my friend, Ayo Sogunro, said, "everything in Nigeria will kill you"
Despite all, I am here in Nairobi, chilling in a very nice resort and not thinking much about the drama and disgrace that is Nigeria.
I will now order room-service, eat, and take a shower!