Renewing Driver’s License in Nigeria: Steps to take

You know how you wish to avoid visiting government parastatals unless you know someone who’s expecting you there? I had steeled myself for ‘come what may’ this morning as I left home for the license office.

The birthday was on Friday, Oct 13 so the license was expired.

On Monday, Oct 16, I had visited the FRSC portal to apply for a 5-year renewal. I paid with my GT card, N10450 and printed out the form. Tuesday morning after dropping the kids at school I headed for the FRSC Ojodu office, having chosen that centre while filling the form

 

FRSC 1

 

The drive down was smooth, parked outside, walked into the compound with my form, unsure of how to manoeuvre my way around the large compound. Right at the pedestrian gate, I bump into a khaki on-black uniform-wearing man who asked me how he could help. As we spoke, a man walked in wearing plain clothes and the officer asked me to follow this person. I restated my purpose and he took me to a photocopy shed by a long block of offices on the right. Here, dude asks for a passport photograph which I return to the car to get. I come back, he staples the passport and forms (now 2) together and says I need to bring N2500 for FRSC and N1500 for VIO.

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I snatch my form from him and walk to the office block. Ask someone else who directs me to Room 5 window. Bose (as I later heard someone call) collected the forms and asked me to join the waiting group outside.

 

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I see a number of men called to a desk to sign and collect their licenses. I tried to ask the guy next to me if he began his process online, dude responded like ‘what you talking about?’ So, I kept quiet and readied my phone recorder to capture the next official conversation ‘where I will get asked to bring the N2500 or N1500′. But I was pleasantly disappointed. After maybe 30 minutes, someone calls my name, hands me signed forms and directs me to the VIO (Vehicle Inspection Office) block. I walk right into the office of pretty ladies. I sit, state my mission, present my forms and I’m asked to pay N1100 for tests and a Drivers’ Handbook. At first I protest the need for a test and manual when it isn’t a fresh issuance, but lady goes on to say it’s N1600 for new applicants and N1100 for renewing drivers. I calm down when I see the full fee receipted. While I move to the next desk for my eye and written test, I was soon interrupted by Officer Kareem who walked in with a presence and called my name right at the door.

“Madam Lolade.”

I look up and behold a man of average height looking sharp in his wine on black uniform. He asked how my processing was going and that I stepped outside with him.

He had been sent by the FRSC Sector commander who saw my tweets and was intent on finding who attempted to extort in his organisation’s name. I was walked to the Sector Commander’s office ( a bit farther down) who looked very stern until I broke a laugh. I narrated my encounter to him and he detailed another officer to follow me to the gate to ‘bring him’ the officer who directed me to a tout. Here, the commander repeats the lecture Mr Kareem gave me on the walk down. That Driver licensing is a tripatite process. The Processing State Board of Internal Revenue (MVAA), Road Traffic officers (aka VIO who conduct eye and road safety tests), and then the FRSC. The FRSC is the last point of call where you capture biometrics.

 

Read from bottom

 

Well, we go to the gate, the accompanying officer stopping at a distance from me so that the officer he should apprehend doesn’t suspect anything. Sadly I don’t find the ‘helpful’ officer again. I suspect he was on his way out when I bumped into him and asked for direction. There were three officers wearing brown-on-wine uniforms at the drive in, but none of them was at the pedestrian gate when I walked in. So I return to the commander’s aide to feed him back. Well, I return to the VIO, complete my written test, score 9 out of 10 (can’t believe I ticked ‘left’ when asked which side one should overtake from). As I finish, I’m led to another office where I meet the head of the Road Traffic Officers who says he’s called my husband already and he’d like to know at what point exactly I was extorted.

Sigh. I repeat my story again. Frankly, I was more impressed than exasperated at having to narrate my experience over and over. These bosses were not joking. They were ready to ‘hang’ whichever of their staff was culpable. I was very very impressed. I don’t even know how he got the husband’s number. When he was satisfied that his team didn’t drop the ball, he was very relieved. So I take my forms finally to FRSC.

Here, a lady, Ndidi Gertrude who later introduces herself as Head of HR at FRSC talked me through another 20minutes of what the FRSC is trying to do and how public sensitization is important. At first, she’s unhappy that I tweeted my experience rather than asking for the Process Owners (a term I learnt from her) but when I explain how much good documenting my experience in realtime did for the FRSC and the public, she relaxes and we had quite a good chat. We exchanged numbers and I think I have a friend at the FRSC now. My forms come back with more stamps and signature and I’m fine to dirve for another three months, hopefully my license don’t take so long to arrive.

 

Here are quick steps you should take if renewing your driver license:

1. Fill, pay and print form here: https://www.nigeriadriverslicence.org/dlApplication/renew  (A)
2. Make a copy of the printed form (B)
3. Make a copy of expired license (c)
4. Get 2 passport photographs
5. Go to the Internal Revenue Office to submit A,B,C and 1 passport.
6. Take stamped and signed docs to VIO
7. Pay N1100 if renewing (or N1600 if new application)
8. Obtain receipt and Drivers’ handbook.
9. Take eye and written test.
10. If capturing, proceed to Data Capturing (FRSC)
11. If not, photocopy all docs, obtain FRSC stamps and signatures at no fee.
12. You’re good to go!

Note: If you bypass capturing, you won’t be issued a temporary drivers’ license. You’ll need to keep you forms in your car at all times until the license is out.

Hope this helps.

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“I am not ChuChu in here!”

Two mortifying events that happened yesterday have driven me to blog again. One incident was with my toddler son and the other is about an otherwise loving companion – a dog.

 

Yesterday, I saw my kids off to the bus. They are attending summer school as a way to keep them engaged this long holiday since we can’t afford a vacation, I’m only six months in on my new 9-5. Besides, we thought this would be a good way to slowly ease my younger toddler into formal school since she resumes at her brother’s next month. So, back to my story.

 

 

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Ebuka, when he was still my baby…

 

 

I walk them to the bus holding an alternate pair of sandals for big brother because I didn’t like the one his nanny wore him. He was in the bus, a bit far from the door so I called:

 

“Chuchu, come let me change your foot wear.” (His name is Chukwuebuka in full and it translates ‘God is the almighty’)

 

My three years and five months old got up, stood at his distance, and began wagging his index finger on his right hand. Not necessarily at me but he has seen me use the gesture to emphasize points or issue him stern rebukes. He said (with an accent I still don’t know where it belongs):

 

“I am not Chuchu in here. In the house? (he points to the gate) Yes. I am not Chuchu on the bus.”

 

I was transfixed and befuddled. I had never heard my toddler speak that way before. I looked at the bus driver and aunty perplexed while they smiled it off. I asked him what he just said and he repeated the same lines all over again as clearly as never.

 

“So, what are you in here?” I asked.

 

“E-bu-ka!” he answered. I then asked Ebuka to come change his shoes and he obliged.

 

Reflection

 

I call my children pet names that are derived from their first names. Ebuka is most times Chuchu and Olanna is Nana. Ebuka actually had different 2-syllabled pet names before it morphed to Chuchu which is now a bit more consistent. Olanna has always been Nana. My son’s reprimand of me was startling and unnerved me a bit. I had never heard Ebuka speak so clearly and articulately.

 

He would ‘baby’ a lot in the house just to parry attention away from his sister. He’d struggle to retrieve his toys from his sister and ask to be carried sometimes. Many times, he’d have to repeat himself over and over just so I can make out his words sometimes. And that’s because of a mixture of his funny accent and baby talking. Sometimes, he’d even point rather than speak.

 

But this Tuesday was different. And the first message straight for my heart was, ‘this is no longer a baby.’ For the first time, I felt like I had a kid to train and not a baby to nurse. In that second, I realised the need to be more deliberate in my child raising. While I turned this in my head and began the journey to my office same morning, I called the dad to share my shock (since he leaves home pretty early most mornings). I was still finding the words when I witnessed perhaps the most coldblooded event ever.

 

The security guys on my street were ganged up against a dog and one aimed a big plank for it, killing it straight away! I watched it all. I was screaming and so shaken and was narrating to my husband on the phone in the same second that one of the men dragged the body across the road right in front of me. I had to roll down the glass to engage one of the perpetrators.

 

“Why did you people kill the dog?

 

“Madam, it has been disturbing us since. It will come in the night and be making noise, disturbing. Nobody get the dog.”

 

“Sebi, una for drive am commot for the estate instead of killing.”

 

“Ma, we don try. Him dey always come back,” he answered.

 

And thus, the poor stray dog was killed. In that instant, I wished Nigeria had animal protection services that could have been called to pick the dog or even receive the dog if one volunteered to bring it over. It felt almost like jungle justice. It was jungle justice. Nigeria still has a long way to go with regards placing value on breathing beings.

 

PS – I returned to finish this piece on Saturday.

The many inconsistencies that won’t make us great…

Yesterday, I ran a couple of errands that had me go through LASUTH, Opebi, Ikosi and CMD Roads. Every stop I made brought new revelations that made me marvel at how fast things are retrogressing  and how hard the government is trying to reward people’s tenacity with frustration.

 

My first stop was at a friend’s office in Opebi, to pick up the aso-ebi for his wedding, which is holding next week. While I was with him, his intercom kept going off and he’d repeat into the receiver, ‘I’m in a meeting. I said I’m in a meeting’. After the third such call, I asked if he needed to be elsewhere. Then he explained that a group of people from one of the many Lagos State government agencies were in the reception insisting on seeing a senior officer. This was the third team visiting this week (as at Wednesday) allegedly to ‘audit’ the company account.

 

Of course, he was reluctant to see them. The company he works for, an advertising agency, has already laid off half its staff in the last twelve months just to stay afloat. Parking is no longer a problem for guests as the hitherto inadequate car park now boasts only a few cars, a testament to slow business and the reduced staff strength. Yet the government is more desperate than ever to bite off whatever it is that is keeping this company open. As my friend saw me to my car, we walked past the team of 3 – donning black polo shirts with the Lagos state colour symbols on their arms. I shook my head wondering how the conversation would go.

 

Still smarting from that, I proceeded to the Lagos State High Court on Oba Akinjobi Road. I needed to swear an affidavit. As a Lagos girl, I parked outside and made sure to avoid the court touts who saw me arrive in a car. Then I went straight to those tiny buildings on your right, just by the fence, inside the court premises. To my surprise, the former office now carried a chalk inscription saying ‘mosque’. There were maybe another 20 touts and photographers hanging around there and one (who couldn’t be older than 21) approached me. He billed me ₦1500 for ‘typing’ the document, and securing the court stamp. He wouldn’t take less than ₦1000.
I was last here in 2007, when I lost my wallet along with a couple of I.Ds and bank cards. My entire transaction at the time took place in this ‘mosque’ for a few hundred bucks. My kid brother, who also swore an affidavit two months ago, said he spent less than ₦500,. so why pay this third party ₦1000? I tried to find the legal route even though everyone around me were interested in helping me in another way. A security officer later pointed me to the building where I could ‘stamp’ my ‘typed’ document (which was what I asked him).

 

On getting there, it was another tout (who I first thought to be an officer) that led me out to the reserved car park and asked that I wrote out my particulars: Name, Religion, Address, correct and incorrect dates of birth. Then he said, ‘your money na one-two (₦1200)’. I was already tired from walking around in the sun. With my car key firmly tucked away in my bag, I proceeded to negotiate. ‘Ha oga! Na ₦1000 dey my hand o and I go enter transport go house. I dey stay for Ketu. Make I give you ₦700.’

 

My brothers and sisters, this man gave me a seat in another building, and left for a couple of minutes. He returned with a COMPUTER PRINTED document, asked me to cross-check my details, collected the 1k note and went for the stamps. About 15 minutes later, my transaction was done. I walked out to my car wondering how our systems are created with deliberate loopholes to service corruption. What’s wrong with hosting a website where anyone can download these documents so that completed ones are physically presented for stamping in court? Why the ‘type’ scare when computer print outs are also acceptable?

 

As I journeyed home I saw hawkers scamper with their wares as zealous green-uniformed men (and women) jumped down from a black van. Ikeja is the state capital and hawking is forbidden. CMD Road and environs are currently under fire with demolition of ‘illegal’ structures going on left and right. Many of these house small businesses run by their CEOs and a handful of workers. As the economy crumbles and big organisations downsize, Lagos wages war against people trying to make ends meet legitimately. A friend who has produced her own juice in her Mum’s backyard, and is now trying to set up her factory, approached NAFDAC for approval. NAFDAC referred her to a consultant who she MUST ‘work’ with. I leave the rest of the story to your imagination.

 

When the hubby came home and I narrated my court experience cum negotiation tactic, he said: “Welcome to being a criminal. Lying in a courthouse is perjury.”

 

My reply? “I wasn’t under oath, please.” Sigh. The things Nigeria make you do.

 

Editing ‘Guardians of The Seal'(GoTS)

It feels so good I can finally share this! Yaaay!

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GoTS cover

People, this is not just my first book; it is a GOOD book.

When I got the call to edit this manuscript, I was excited simply because I love to panel beat sentences, restructure grammar, replace tenses, condense phrases and just have fun with words and ideas generally. But when I got INTO the text proper, I was mesmerised! I mean, I LOVE Christian fiction. There was a time in my life that I would only read Frank Peretti, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury and anything in that league.

Then came Tunde Leye. When he sent me the book intro, I responded with this mail:

GoTS 1

It’s just amazing how he’s reconstructed Christian reality into something so relateable in these days of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. It’s interesting how he preaches without preaching and even though he’s opted for a neutral genre so as not to be boxed, the redemption power in this book cannot be suppressed.

The ‘realest’ character in the book, for me, has got to be Lucan. “It has to be Lucan. The way his life was interrupted is very practical to me. He was the most human. I love him for his weakness,” I told Tunde in a mail during editing.

And the most intense chapter for me is chapter 8. More precisely, pages 128 – 133. My heart was racing so fast I found myself praying for the character. That is what a good book does to you – make you feel like you can impact on a character’s outcome. I couldn’t resist another mail that March:

“Been one intense night. Don’t know where you were when you wrote these chapters but it looks like the job of a secret place. The battles are so intense. The rescue of Imani from that marble altar began it all. I was compulsively teleported myself and felt so involved in the battle, I caught myself praying in the spirit throughout the encounter.”

Here’s an excerpt of the warfare in chapter 8:

Light engulfed his body and in an instant, he was transformed. The light he emitted illuminated the room and the once dark room became as bright as the noonday. All around, the dark forms of demons huddled together to avoid his light. The five demon lords could have been stone where they stood. They looked in utter amazement. He swung his sword in one direction and white light shot in an arc in that direction. All the demons that fell under its light were consumed by it in an instant… He closed his eyes and issued the command, “Occupy, Euphrates.”

As soon as he did, the room began to fill up with flowing, liquid light. The demons struggled to escape it. Faster than any of them could react, the room had filled up to the brim. Lucan stood guard at the entrance, cutting down every demon that got away from the light-filled room. Not a single one escaped; he made sure of that. When the liquid light receded, only the bodies of the five demon lords and a wide-eyed Imani remained in the room. He approached the altar and removed her gag.

This book is for every lover of fiction – good fiction. This author did a good job!

Meanwhile I asked him a few questions about this book just before we rounded up editing. There was no way I would miss understanding the mind behind this book and the intents. I reproduced the Q & A here.

So, support your girl’s hustle o. The big launch is in September and we’ll try all we can to make sure it’s available in major physical and electronic bookshops. If you’d like to review the book before then, do buzz me. We’ll arrange a special delivery for you. Cheers!

Why I wrote ‘Guardians of The Seal’- Tunde Leye

I had the rare privilege of editing perhaps Nigeria’s first Christian fiction novel authored by Tunde Leye. The experience was so intense I couldn’t turn in the last chapters until he had answered my questions. I have reproduced the e-mail containing our exchange below. Do enjoy.
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Tunde Leye
I have nine plus one questions about where this book came from and your intentions as the writer. The impression is too strong to ward off easily. Take your time and answer as well as you can. If you’ll have more time over the weekend, I can wait.

1. What’s the purpose of this book? What’s your intention/desire for this book?
2. Is this your own pulpit?

3. Why is the seed of the woman female? It’s interesting how the crucifixion sacrifice is substituted. Is this for literary effect/suspense or something more?

4. I like the suggestion that Lucifer is defeated eternally. Is that you trying to tell the Christian congregation that the greater battle has been won already and what we are fighting now are only manifestations of his plantings in men’s hearts? Or again is it just literature?

5. Is ‘The Bringing’ to suggest that award shows are demonic? Do you loathe awards?
6. I read you associate drugs and technology with demons, you have strong reservations against them?
7. How did the idea come to you, did it make sense immediately and over what period of time did you develop it for?
8. Why Guardians of the Seals? Why Christian fiction? Why now?

This was his response:
I can answer the questions now actually, because I’ve thought about them many times over.

The easy ones first.
I came about the idea some ten/eleven years ago in a conversation with a friend about superheros and their source of power (I’m something of a cartoon buff) and we talked about some being able to go to heaven at will. Then I read about C.S Lewis and Tolkein being asked about if their books (Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of The Rings respectively) were about their faith (both were Christians) and they both gave similar answers (they were friends and both belonged to a literary group called the Inklings).
Their answer was that they had written about the world if it had the Christian salvation story, if magic and fantasy beings were permitted in the world. My book is essentially a similar thing – so many things in the book a allegories to multiple things (e.g the Wicket gate is an allegory of salvation and the seals themselves an allegory of the covenant with the Israelites and so on). It took 3 years to write, so seven years was basically the idea brewing in my head and growing, even as I wrote other things.
I don’t have anything against awards or technology. In fact, one of the most advanced technologies in the book (the Interfacers) was created by Tara, one of the protagonists and very beneficial to the world. I think tech is as good as the use it is put to, it is amoral.
I try not to make my writing a pulpit militantly pushing an agenda. But I made an exception with this one. So to a great degree, I told a story of how, if I had the creative license, I’d have written the creation, salvation, redemption and final defeat of the devil story. Stories are powerful and can reach people in ways nothing else (except perhaps music) can. Hopefully, it will cause someone to search for the real deal in the bible.
Why Guardians of the Seals? It’s the story I had, and the one I felt ready to tell. Why Christian fiction. It’s actually epic fantasy with the background world I created based on the Christian mythology. Why now? I’ve been away for 2 years (marrying and borning pikin) and I’m making a “comeback” with a bang. Plus the story is ready. Recall I said I did an almost total rewrite because I didn’t think it was ready before now.
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GoTS cover

Don’t sell your generators yet!

NEPA has been frighteningly constant. Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? Well, it was when it never happened. And now that it’s happening, it takes a conscious effort not to panic. Somewhere in my subconscious, I still feel this a trick. Oh yeah. And when this trick is over, we will be worse off. So, chide me not when I beg NEPA to revert to status quo so that I can have peace of mind rather than this palpitating heart on top 72 hours of uninterrupted power – when I haven’t moved to Aso Villa. Yet.

Since this is a strange situation, I’ve been trying to figure how to control my supply. You see, before now, we take what we are given when they feel gracious enough to supply us. And as such, once power is on, the brain goes into overdrive trying to prioritise chores based on power-dependence. So now that the light is steady, I find myself going round to ensure the water heater is on only for a brief period. Yesterday, I actually turned off my freezer during the day and powered it through the night. It’s called ‘load sharing’ and Ilearnt it from my neighbors in Cotonou.

Freezing fruit and cabbage

This afternoon, on finding that my fruits are freezing in the fridge, I tried to think up the best way to make this power supply work for me and not against me. If you are one who stores fruits in the fridge too you’ll agree frozen watermelon, cucumber and pineapples are no good. So I remembered this knob in the back of the fridge, just by the light. Like every other Nigerian fridge, this knob is set to 7, coldest. So I reduced it to 4.

Then I crossed over to the freezer and tuned the temperature knob on the bottom right to 4 too.

That way, if (more like when) NEPA decides to revert to status quo, I shall not be caught unawares! For now, they are in a race to exhaust my power units purchased since Dec 31, 2015.

Good luck NEPA.

On Brexit and Money Monster

 

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U.K Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigns.

Did you see David Cameron nearly break down at the end of his speech? I felt really sorry for him.

He had been the ‘Stay’ champion, touring schools in different states across the U.K trying to encourage young people on the merits of staying in the EU. Somehow he got across to this demography but some of the older folks feel differently – as the Brexit vote analysis shows. Such a narrow margin but democracy prevails. Sadly so.

Cameron said he doesn’t see a future for the UK on this path and he can’t lead without a vision (paraphrase).  Now there isn’t anything more astute and honourable than that. He resigned because he is no longer the right person to lead the U.K in this new direction. I was so awed I tweeted, “OMG David Cameron nearly broke down in the last sentences…awww. Where do they sell this ‘resignation pill’ make abroad pple buy come Naija”.

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Really the West make me think. Honour is more meaningful to them than virginity is to an Asian community. They are an inspiring lot sometimes, many times.

The Western environment allows individual development so that there can be a progressive challenge of the status quo. As a matter of fact new knowledge is very important so they will support researches in science and discoveries in art. You are groomed and nudged to always speak out – bare your mind. In fact the rarer your thought patterns the more likely you are sought for opinions and that is what has built their political landscape.

In the Brexit build up and many TV debates, it was not rare to find people from the same party having opposing views on the matter. I recall particularly the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, advocating that Britain remains in the EU while Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn felt differently. These are major figures from one party.

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Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan

In Nigeria, APC will say they have met and agreed on a position; so will PDP. Innocuous stands like this don’t allow for intellectual conversations and arguments in our media and extension country. People are not required to think unless you feel spurned enough. And God help you if you have a political affiliation, you will be promptly labeled a black sheep and disowned if DSS or EFCC don’t visit you first. Meanwhile these so-called party positions on any matter isn’t a result of collective thinking or vote of party members. Rather, it’s the position of party stalwarts and sponsors. Sigh. Nigeria.

I just feel the need to make a case for intellectual development and outspokenness in Nigeria. Look at how interesting presidential elections build up in the West. The arguments and conversations make radio and TV a joy to listen or watch (Trump is another topic, biko). We really need to start looking inwards and try to raise our children better-stimulate their minds early and let them bare it.

Yesterday I saw the ‘Money Monster’ movie featuring George Clooney.

George Clooney Money Monster
George Clooney in Money Monster

An aggrieved young man found his way into a TV studio while a live show was airing. He held the show host (George Clooney) at gunpoint, wore him a suicide vest and demanded to speak with the CEO of a company whose stocks crashed and rendered him bankrupt. He got his wish eventually and confronted the CEO so brazenly about his lost $60,000.

Jack Onell Money Monster
Bankrupt gunman seizes TV anchor in Money Monster

Recast this scene in real life Nigeria. A poor ‘nobody’ meets Otedola, Dangote, Ambode or even his LG chairman. This average person CAN NOT have a conversation with any of these people even if one of their factory trucks just killed his only child! It is sad. The complex – under the stupid guise of humility, religion, culture or respect is EVIL!. We are a generation of YesMen. Forget the social media noise, half of us cannot confront in real life the people we spend day and night cursing on Twitter! Very very sad reality.

It’s time we began to speak up. But before then, let’s read up perhaps we’ll catch up. And remember, question EVERYTHING – in your head first, and don’t stop till you find answers.

thinking
Yes, think. That’s what a brain’s for.

Use your mobile data wisely.