Hello people, thanks for coming by again. I wish to intimate you of my recent itinerary.
On Thursday, the 26th of January 2011, I got into Lagos. It was my official day off. I made some bank transactions and then went to check a bookstore at Ogba where I had hoped to get my hands on some Wole Soyinka’s hard cover collections. This particular store usually stock literature books and novels as I per chance learnt. I noted the location and came back on this date. Unfortunately, the bookstore had moved. Nobody knew the new location. The other bookstores around there sold only writing materials, textbooks and short story books for schools. I thought to myself “I will manage to get someone who lives close to Yaba or Unilag to help get some of the books I wanted”. So, I left Ogba and headed towards Berger, my stop being the Federal Road Safety Corp office. The purpose was to renew my driver’s license which had expired last year. I went to the office where I was issued the first one (sometimes in 2007) and met with the receptionist. There were lots of people waiting at the reception area. I told her my intentions. She started to make to go outside for another assignment so she called on a guy outside (he wasn’t dressed in uniform, not sure if he is a road marshal). He said I had to confirm the authenticity of the old license before I can proceed on getting a re-issue. He dashed into the office (past the reception) and came back in less than 3minutes to tell me he has confirmed it. I asked about the procedure for the re-issue. He told me it will cost about N3500 if I did it by myself but N4500 if he did it for me and quickly added that I might be spending about 2hours if I had to do it myself. I am of the new school of thought, a convert of change with a mindset to ‘do’ it myself. I thanked him and told him I would rather do it myself. I went to the office where he directed me to, the payment office. The man requested I bring the fee of N3300. My first reaction was that some Government institutions still receive cash payment at offices and not deposit slips? I saw others who had just paid before me and I knew it was the procedure, so I paid the money and he handed me the receipt as well as the form for re-issue. I later discovered that the receipt had N3040 on it. (The FRSC website states that I only need to pay a prescribed fee of N300, Oh yea!). I wondered where the balance had gone and why it was not reflected on the receipt. One of the men who also came for license (fresh) told me he had asked and was told the paltry sum was for the training. Yeah, we had training. We were made to sit just outside (sheltered) where there were lots of benches and about 35 participants. A young road
gave the lecture about road safety. There was a TV set and a DVD for the training. Impressive, I hear you say; yes I was impressed and curious. I listened attentively. He showed us some Regulatory, Mandatory, Warning and Informative signs and explained what each meant. He also showed some videoed examples to explain further where necessary. There were questions, one of which asked the basis for the absurd fines when some mandatory signs were flouted. He explained that there was no ignorance in law and that the way to deter people from disobeying the regulations was to place fines. Some one else asked about the fines for the warning signs. The road Marshall tried to explain that those signs are very much concerned about the safety of the driver and passengers where possible. The man was insistent as to a fine being placed on these warning signs. I responded (when I saw that the young Marshall was getting exasperated) that the fine was his life. Everyone laughed and that kinda explained it. Or how else will one caution such driver who sees the double (sharp) bend sign ahead and still speed into it just because there are no Road Marshals to obtain fine from him for not following the sign. If he had an accident, it could be a worse case scenario where he loses his life. Marshall
Quite interesting and interactive the class was. After like 40mins, he rounded up and told us we will be doing the eye test next. He had this eye test machine on his table just beside the TV/DVD. He told us we needed to get the eye test form from a lady who makes photocopy just beside the training shed. She sold a photocopy of the form for N10 each. He collected our filled-in license forms and called 5 names at a time for the test. He said the test will cost us N200 each. I presuppose this was a government establishment and all charges would have been billed into the cost of obtaining the license. Each person looked into the equipment with both eyes wide open and read out some numbers aloud. The Road Marshall will then confirm the numbers and mark “passed” on the eye test and license form. On getting to my turn (I was the last on the queue), I read out the numbers and as I paid him the money, I enquired again what the payment was for. He looked at me quizzically and repeated that it was for the eye test and asked me why I asked. I told him I needed to know what I was paying for particularly when in this case I wasn’t issued any receipt. He looked warily at me but I just looked back casually. I didn’t want to create a scene as I knew I was going to write about it and possibly put the write-up on the FRSC site. This is my sword for change and I sure know how to use it. Government has made a procedure for a particular establishment, employed some certain people who are being paid salaries to ensure the procedure works but most of these people aren’t satisfied with the salaries, they go ahead and put charges to services (to make extra money) which would have been covered in the payment. This is one reason why most government establishments now require you to pay in a designated bank and bring the payment slip to their office.
After we finished with the eye test, we were directed to another office where the part of the form which read “for official use” was completed. I submitted the form in the office and waited (stood) along with the others outside a workshop shed beside the office for about 30mins. The man in the office later came out and called out our names one after the other, signed and stamped. He directed us to another office (bureaucracy of the highest order!). From there, we headed to the final office where our data was registered and a date/time was given to appear for photo capture. I was given a date in March. I spent roughly 2hrs for the whole process. I later saw the guy who wanted to “help” me do the processing. He asked me ‘how far?” and I told him I was through. He nodded and smiled. I smiled back... I felt justified that I as a change agent, I needed to practice what I preached no matter how small/insignificant it might appear to be. I felt good that I did not subscribe to the tout, not because I couldn’t afford to cash-wise but because I deem it as a continuance of the old ways which I rebel against strongly. I realized that most of the issues with touting in this case (and so many other cases) has to do with the average Nigerians accepting “status quo” and just going with the flow. Excuses such as “I don’t have time”, “why bother?”, “That’s how we do it”, “You can’t change things’ are usually given for buying into these old schemes. I met someone who complained about how he had given some money to a female Road Marshall for a driver’s license only to be fined later for being in custody of a fake license. He claimed that when he called the woman on phone, she told him not to worry and that she would come and “help” settle the case. Help again? Jeez, please, freeze (lol). He decided that he would go through the proper channel and get himself the real thing. So, the N7500 which he gave the woman was gone with the winds. He only had to pay N6500 total for a new license and would not have to dodge road marshals for the next 3 yrs. Most people will complain of not having the time to “do the right thing” but will find time for much trivial things which have no direct correlation to society development one bit.
I wish to urge us (particularly the young breed) to desist from patronizing touts and follow the right procedure though it takes us a little more time than we can spare, that way, the touts will also look to do something else when they realize that there is no “market’ for their wares.