In the twelve years since I started driving, I have had at least four driver’s licenses, all of them processed in Lagos.
By the way, when I say processed, I mean that very common ‘parole’ where someone who ‘does’ licenses gives you a form of some sort and you write your name, signature, date of birth, Blood type and other info on, then you submit with two passport photos, and within days you get a new license; Gbam!
About four years ago, it occurred to me that this process was wrong. The license came out looking funny and it had a northern state written on it, plus it did not have the correct first issue date on it, and many other things were just not right. (yeah sue me, I’m a bloody Nigerian).
The license became some sort of embarrassment over the years, so I decided to do right by my country. That is what got me into this unending dance with the Federal road safety corps.
Last year I went to the road safety/Vehicle Inspection Unit in Lagos; as a repentant good Nigerian.
Day 1, I spent close to three hours between the bank and the Road safety offices, in a riotous round of applying, signing and online submissions.
It took great grace to ignore the tout who walked up to me and offered to help me get the license sharp-sharp.
The mention of the internet raised my hopes of progress in this sweet country of mine. Surely with computerized steps, the whole Driver’s license process would be as easy and fast as flash Thompson(even if he were on a pounded yam and egusi soup diet). I spoke too soon.
At the end of that day, they asked me to produce a certificate from an accredited driving school, that was the only way they would ascertain that I could drive.
‘But I have been driving for over ten years, see my expired license!’ I said, unbelief nearly choking my voice
But the license was not recognized on their system, so I may as well be a fresh applicant. This was the response from the officers, each of who had nasty smirks on their faces
You can’t understand my frustration at that point. Me, Iquo DianaAbasi, aka Diana Bond? aka ‘ika obirin lori steering? Me, Fresh applicant? Driving school? Chei, I haf suffer!
At that point I almost hated their new internet-driven system.
Okay, on to Day 2.
I agreed to return another day to the driving school they pointed out to me. At this place, the old way still worked. They simply asked for money and handed me a certificate in minutes. By the time I returned to FRSC, they put me in a room with several other people and scheduled us for a written test. Finally! Something I could handle. With a 90% score I hoped again that merit would quicken the process… but once again I was hasty.
Then came the driving test. How can you even wonder how it went? My name is Bond. Diana Bond.
Next I was sent to another room, where I finally got a date for physical capture, three months from that day!
So, I missed my capture date and returned to FRSC for a rescheduling. Another crowd took possession of the capture waiting area. Many got rescheduled dates too. Some men kept grumbling about having to carry the sheaf of papers about for the three years that a proper license would last before expiration. Another said this was his fourth time of being rescheduled; they just kept stamping and re-stamping his forms for the past year and three months.
That is when I realized that I have really entered one chance. Could this be what Fela meant when he sang O-D-O-O (Overtake don overtake overtake)?
It is five months now, and I am yet to get a physical capture. I’m beginning to wonder if this capture is done by quantum physics, or if FRSC just has serious ‘village-whinch’ issues.
If I decide to go back to my old ways, shebi they will say I am unpatriotic.