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The Visa Bond and our Driver’s Licence bondage

BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN

The vociferous outburst in Nigeria to the proposal for successful applicants of the Britain visa to deposit a £3,000 bond is remarkable. Nearly all strata of the society were united in condemning the British proposal which was remarkably conceived to protect the British citizenry.

The policy which the authorities in the British Home Office say is still a proposal, was reportedly conceived to deter otherwise visiting Nigerians from making their abode in the United Kingdom.

Off course, there are many reasons for visitors from this country to forget Nigeria once in the UK. From the stability of the power situation in that country to the absence of local terrorists in religious garb or in official motorcade, there are indeed many reasons to tempt many otherwise frustrated Nigerians not to return to this country once in the UK.

Elizabeth II and Cameron
Elizabeth II and Cameron

However, beyond the outcry by Nigerians of a patriotically conceived British proposal is the indifference of many Nigerians to the seemingly more wicked policies of Nigerian authorities foisted on many hapless citizens.

Some of the most outstanding examples of such wicked policies are those that have been conceived for the issuance of the Drivers’ Licence and Motor Vehicle Licence by the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC.

Whether you are getting it fresh or renewing the Driver’s Licence, one has to literally sweat and sulk through the process that otherwise should not take one more than an hour.

It is even more annoying when the authorities of the commission turn the issuance of licences into an exploitative channel to drain the pocket of an already financially haemorrhaged citizenry.

Last year after the FRSC announced a 100 per cent increase in the fees for Driver’s Licence from N3,000 to N6,000, the Senate rose albeit, belatedly in indignation against the increase which also affected Motor Vehicle licence fees which was put at a minimum of N15,000.

It was one time that many would applaud the senate’s action especially so as the move was championed by Senator Dahiru Kuta, who sometimes gives the impression of being a comrade.

However, after some consultations the Senate let the FRSC go on with the seemingly wicked tariff regime.

Even as high as the fees are, even the processing of the licence is a nightmarish experience for anyone that boldly decides to go the whole extent without greasing the palms of the officials involved.

Documentation process
When this correspondent decided to renew his Driver’s Licence without greasing anyone’s palms it was an agony that one almost regretted. After the frustrating documentation process at the Vehicle Inspection Office and the up and down process of going to the bank to pay and all that, one would have expected to get a relaxing experience at the FRSC given the comport and finesse associated with its helmsman, Osita Chidoka.

But no! The process of capturing the customer is a day’s exercise that brings incalculable drain on the national economy.

One can only imagine how much clients of the FRSC lose when they spend the whole day waiting for capture while their businesses suffer.

It is not surprising that many take the short-cut by compromising officials to fast-track the process for them.

Of course, the FRSC is not the only government agency suffocating the suffering citizenry. Virtually all of them are have the same lackadaisical and exploitative attitude to their clients.

Whether it is the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Customs, or whatever, the attitude is the same.

So it is surprising that many Nigerians would rise in uproar against the British authorities who have taken up the gauntlet to protect their citizenry from the stress of accommodating visiting or runaway Nigerians.

What ought to be is for Nigerians to refocus their energies to those policies churned out here that drive or frustrate Nigerians out of their country. That is what we ought to do instead of enriching the British treasury with visa fees and forsaken visa bonds.

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