BY CHIDI NKWOPARA, Owerri
If some officials of the Zonal Office of Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS, did not invite Vanguard Metro, VM, to the decoration of their newly promoted personnel, our reading public may never have known the level of suffering officers and men of three uniformed organisations are passing through in this day and age.
The zonal offices of Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Prison Service and Nigerian Immigration Service are located within the same compound tucked away in a distant part of the Industrial Layout, off Owerri-Onitsha dual carriage way, Owerri.
The Zonal Public Relations Officer of NIS, Mrs. G. O. Nwaka, put a call across to VM when she was told that our Correspondent was not in the office. This conversation ensued:
PRO: Hello Sir, I am the PRO of Nigerian Immigration Service. I am in your office to invite you to the decoration of our newly promoted officers.
VM: Which arm of Immigration, state or zone?
PRO: The Zonal Office.
VM: How do we get there? Should I come in a canoe or car?
PRO: (Had a good laugh and replied) In a car.
With this reply, VM thought the road had been made accessible. This was not to be as VM encountered series of stagnant water located at the entrance into the road leading to the Zonal Office of NIS. However, armed with the PRO’s response, VM made a move into the stagnant water and only discovered it was an ocean.
The “ocean” almost swallowed our Correspondent’s car, yanking off the back bumper in the process. Anger and frustration set in. Salvaging what remained of the bumper was very troublesome. A call was put across to the marketers of my brand of vehicle immediately and was told that it would cost more than N100,000 to fix a new bumper!
This situation clearly brought to the fore, what officers and men of NCS, NIS and NPS pass through, on a daily basis, to get to their offices. Literally speaking, they have continued to suffer and smile despite their level of suffering and drain on their take home salary.
Some of the vehicles owned by these Federal Government officers have been wrecked irredeemably. Fela who sang Suffering and Smiling will today be laughing in his grave!
The situation is said to explain why not much is heard about the activities of the three zonal offices of these Federal Government establishments located in this largely submerged area of Owerri. This is because only but the most daring journalist would venture there, except a situation of emergency occurs.
On the event proper, 22 NIS officers were decorated. The Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration, Zone E, Owerri, Chief Chibueze John Adike, superintended over the exercise. He was assisted by the Assistant Comptroller of Customs, Imo-Abia Area Command, Mr. Brisibe Terry and the Acting Assistant Comptroller General/Zonal Coordinator, Nigeria Prison Service, Mr. Charles Ahaotu.
Addressing the newly decorated officers later, Chief Adike reminded them that their elevation calls for more serious work and appealed to those not promoted this time, to expect theirs in future.
“Your elevation to new ranks is a call for more hard work. Your elevation brings you face to face with new challenges. You must be prepared to discharge your duties with dedication. Do not do anything that will make the Service regret promoting you,” Chief Adike said.
It was the considered view of the ACG that every worker expects to be promoted, stressing that labour must be adequately compensated and hard work will be recognised, even as he opined that it is God that promotes.
Responding on behalf of her colleagues, Mrs. Juliet Achonwa, who was promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Immigration, CSI, recalled that most of them had attended the promotion interview several times before and urged those who were not so lucky this time to remain steadfast in God and committed to the Service.
The questions VM is asking are: When will the road leading to these Federal Government establishments be paved? When will the officers and men of NIS, NPS and NCS stop suffering and smiling? Is it in this day and age? Only time will tell.