You think I can lose the per diem er. You lie sef! Getting a passport in Accra can be real hell and some people can go to every extent of expenditure to get it. I refused to say getting a passport in ‘Ghana’ is hard’. This cannot be true oo; it is hard in only Accra. Why are you angry at me for voicing my opinion, Mr Gbev Lartey?
The irony is that though easier to obtain a passport in the Regions, many people in the Regions, prefer having an Accra passport forgetting that it is the same everywhere. What is the use of decentralizing these things?
I was suddenly prompted on April 14, 2016 that I was going to travel by aeroplane outside Ghana again. Chai! Ayigbeman on plane? Hahaaaa! That was the first reality that dawned on me was that I had applied for a passport renewal 3 months earlier and never followed up until that ‘sweet announcement’. Me, travel outside Ghana, sponsored by my employer with $3,000 per diem? (Ahaa you see say your face change while you are trying to multiply that by GHC3.80). No passport? I swore I would bring down heaven to get one within one week; Enye Mawulia? Hmmm!
I went to the passport office on Monday and lo and not behold, the queue was ‘short’. I sought the services of a ‘fast tracker’. He was ready to help because he has been helping people trace their passports. He assured me I was going to get it so long as it was 3 months after I had applied for renewal.
He searched, searched and searched and could not find my passport. He proceeded to where they print it at Ridge. I followed him. By Wednesday, there was no hope in sight. Plane tickets have been bought already. The sweetest part that was likely to go acrimonious was the envelope containing the per diem that was handed me on Thursday. The flight was the following Sunday morning and as of Friday afternoon, no hope of getting my passport. My ‘fast tracker’ gave up on me and switched his phone off. All the big men I knew refused to pick their calls.
I pleaded with a Supervisor in the Office who offered to help. Gideon was a super-patient man as one million people were on him seeking assistance in one form or the other. At 5.17pm, he came back from ‘the wherever’ to tell me the feedback he picked up was that my passport was found but I could not travel on Sunday as scheduled because ‘it was a bad book’ as my photograph in it was defaced due to something something. Kaiiiii! I took a closer look at the per diem, not getting this passport this very moment meant I was going to return this money to chest and believe me. Na lie!
I had to simulate I was a psychiatric patient. They have closed; I started misbehaving. It’s 5.30pm Friday evening. Nothing could be done! I was told to come back on Monday to start the process all over again. How could that be if the flight was on Sunday! Ei!
I didn’t know what to do to myself. At this point, Gideon gave up on me and justifiably so. He did his best. I had been a thorn in his flesh exerting unnecessary pressure that whole Friday. Fine gentleman but I tortured him undeservedly.
In my desperately confused state, I went to an office and was told to see a big man. There, I knelt on the floor and he nearly slapped me for asking him to do the impossible especially after he had closed. I pleaded. He wouldn’t listen. He shut his computer at about 5.34 and reluctantly asked his Assistant to see what he could do to help this ‘useless boy’ but he was sure it was not going to be possible. It’s Friday? 5.34pm? Tired already? Naaaa! At this point, I was ready to spend any amount of money so long as I had $3,000 in my pocket.
The big man’s Assistant was angry with me for following up on my passport late. He left the office with my transaction slip. I waited IMpatiently. Could he or he couldn’t? I kept asking myself. It didn’t look possible but it has to be, Allah!
From introspection, I reckoned I was to blame for not following up on my renewal application until this stage.
A konkonsa man in the office whispered to me that the passport office’s computer system had been set in such a way that by 6pm, everything was going to shut down automatically. Ei! Me be this? Going to miss out on an important trip? The importance was not the conference I was attending oo but the money I was going to return to chest. Hehehe! My eyes were red and green.
This Assistant was also not returning from wherever he went to. At 5.57pm, he pushed the door open to his office and handed me my passport – error corrected! Han? The relief was biiiig and deeeep; I still cannot believe I had the passport that day. I couldn’t hide my disbelief and joy! I was more than delighted by SHERRIFF, the young man in the passport office of the big man. I pulled out my wallet in some corner, wanting to ‘appreciate’. He sensed it and refused vehemently and I still remember his words ‘All that I wanted to see was to see you happy and satisfied and I believe you are happy now. This is my job and I don’t just do it but I do it with the hope that I would make the people I serve happy; I am paid for the job I do but my real joy is in making people satisfied’.
I was ‘embarrassed’! I was stunned! It was 6.06pm and he had to close. He begged me to leave his office because he wanted to close.
I begged for his number which he gladly did give out but indicated that he would not pick my calls for anything. He’s done with me!
This happened on April 22, 2016. Mr Sherriff of the Passport Office at Ridge…need I say ‘Angels do exist and Ghana needs at least 10 of your type! Happy Sanlah wai!
Ask me where the money is and hmmm…I chopped all my dollars alone oo! I used part for my hotel and conference charges, bought some bags of cement, iron rods to start building a chamber-and-hall for rentals. I gave Madam GHC300. Is that not okay? Why are you thinking I am ‘chisel’ ah! I told her my per diem was $800. Hope you did not expect me to tell her the exact amount. I dey craze? Hahaaaa! I should even have charged her withholding tax on the GHC300 I gave her or?
I gave GHC100 each to two ‘useless girlfriends of mine – Ablavi and Maame! Ablavi has even started misbehaving; I will sack her oo, yoo!
Have the best of the weekend, Sherriff and Gideon…these are the guys who gave me hope that we can be efficient without being corrupt!
Happy birthday to all those celebrating their birthdays today. Now, can I gerrout of here? Hahaaaaaaa!
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