Change the operational delivery system of the Nigeria High Commission in the UK
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For too long the Nigerian High Commission in the UK has been running a deplorable operation in servicing its key stake holders; The Nigerian People, most especially those residing in the UK.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that
―the security and welfare of THE PEOPLE shall be the primary purpose of the Government.
Below I have outlined the Nigerian Good Governance under Chapter 1 section 10 of its Civil Service Handbook. Following are a list of the current problems that breach the Nigerian Civil Service code at the Nigerian High Commission as well as solutions:
"In recent times, it is being increasingly accepted that good governance
is an important fundamental for efficient economic management and
development and that it should, as such, be incorporated into our political
system. Accordingly, the citizen expects the Government to use State resources
to manage the affairs of the country judiciously. Good governance can be
understood as comprising the following characteristics:
(i) Rule of Law
- fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially;
- Full protection of human rights, particularly those of
The Frame work has broken down. Changes are made with no proper cascading of information to Nigerians who travel far and wide in the UK to be met with condescending attitudes from security to officials (members of staff) in the consulate. There is confusion from the onset and people are not being treated or processed fairly.
- decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner
that follows rules and regulations;
- information is freely available and accessible to those who
will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement;
- people understand why government takes certain decisions;
- there is zero tolerance for corruption.
Case: I have sent an FOI request under the FOI Act 2011 which has 1) Not be acknowledged or acted upon. The institute shows nonchalance towards the law and governance.
- governmental institutions as well as the private sector and
civil society organisations must be accountable to the public
and to their institutional stakeholders;
- organisations and institutions are accountable to those who
will be affected by decisions or actions.
Case: Nigerians in the UK have seen no accountability on why, what and who deals with certain areas or even how to lodge a formal complaint. I asked for name of the staff talking to me in what only could be described as and abhorrent manner but would not give his name or division for which he works under.
Solution: 1) Every staff interacting with members of the public should be able to give their first name, wear a clear name badge and state what division they work for and if asked who their manager is. 2) A complaints/suggestion system should be in place, clearly signposted and via a the sites (as opposed to email accounts) so as to review services observe any trends that would assist in the much needed changes to operations and delivery.
(v) Effectiveness and Efficiency
- processes and institutions produce results that meet the
needs of society while making the best use of resources at
- need for sustainable use of natural resources and the
protection of the environment is recognised;
- public officials carry out their duties efficiently and effectively
as well as with sensitivity as to how services are best
delivered to the public.
Case: Nigerians are given false information of documentations needed, collection dates pf passports.
There is no management of expectation neither is there any apology.
The process of renewing passports has become bureaucratic and the question of where our biometric data is being held needs to be asked as surely having an electronic system should simplify this process.
Solution: Outsource the website. Total over haul. Make it intuitive and informative. It should also be clearly sign posted and time stamped with a signature of the personal responsible for the upload of the document for accountability purposes. Service users should be able to log in using their details and get updates and information on a case by case basis.
If time of collection lapses the High commission should issue a personal apology and a definitive date of when to expect the needed outcome for applicants.
- institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within
a reasonable time frame.
Case: Nigerians in the UK are stake holders to the nation. We not only are citizens but contribute by remittance of money to Nigeria that assists in health, education, amongst other things to relieve the current hardships Nigerians face daily. The amount of money remitted in 2015 was $20.8 billion, according to data from Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development. Surely this must count for something?
Solution: 1) Train current staff in strategic process management and customer service or employ staff who have proven experience do so. 2) Change the 5 year validity of passports to 10 years.
(ix) Security and Order
- ensure peace and security and orderliness for citizens to get
on with their lives to achieve their optimum."
Case: People travel up and down the UK to the high commission taking time off work, taking kids out of school etc which contributes to loss of earnings, miss out education and the likes.
Solution: There needs to be some compensation system for mismanagement of peoples time and resources this will also keep your performance at bay and ensure KPI's are met to ensure both parties are productive and achieve their optimum in their day to day lives.
There also needs to be smaller regional offices for intake of applications and collections. Applications made via these small regional offices will lessen the inconvenience and ease the congestion at the London Office. Applications submitted from these smaller offices should be sent via recorded mail and be updated on the applicants account as to how far the in the process their application is.
According to the Nigerian Human Resource code mentioned below this type of behaviour that would lead to dismissal.
2006 Public Service Rules No 030302, states that if a senior officer notices any of these misconduct, the officer should issue the staff involved with a query in writing, giving details of unsatisfactory behaviour and request the staff to submit within a specified time such written representation as he/she may wish to make to exculpate himself/herself from disciplinary action.
We refuse to believe that such misconducts have gone unseen.
Serious Misconduct is a specific act of very serious wrongdoing and improper behaviour which is inimical to the image of the Service and which can be investigated and if proved, may lead to dismissal. Serious acts of misconduct include:
(c) Withholding of files
Case: I have personally experienced when collecting my passport hearing an official tell a colleague to tell customer her passport was not ready as they did not like how she conducted herself when she made the initial application for a new passport.
(e) Absence from duty without leave -
Case: There always seems to be minimal staff on any given day.
Solution: 1) Adequate levels of staffing to service the 100's of Nigerians that come to you daily. 2) Smaller regional offices that only take in applications and are used as a collection point once completed.
Case: There have been alleged cases (as this as not been proven in any court) that staff in the high commission take bribe to fast track applications. Of resent I was informed a member of staff collected £800 to process a passport next day.
Solution: If people can prove they have had to bribe staff and testify with some form of evidence that person who collected the bribe should be sacked and made to face the law. The Acting High Commissioner should make a public statement regarding this and that it is not behaviour that will be tolerated provided there is evidence.
Case: When people arrive what say is contrary to what is on the Nigerian High Commission site. This should not be so.
Solution: Information on the website and staff must correlate and corroborate anything contrary is below standard. Staff should not give false dates for collection or any in-actionable practice if this not true and should be disciplined accordingly.
(p) Advance fee fraud (Criminal code 419) - The Postal Order is still not clear to its purpose and there for would be listed as an advance fee fraud for this fee should be included in the passport application from the onset as most other countries.
(r) Nepotism or any other form of preferential treatment -
Case: This is seen daily. People making calls trying to connect with people on the inside to assist them and be given preferential treatment on the basis of affiliation
Solution: Any personnel receiving a call should be done by the NHC number for audit purposes.
(w) Any other act unbecoming of a public officer
IMMEDIATE SHORT TERM SOLUTION:
1) The Nigerian High Commission should issue a public apology.
2) All existing passport applicants who have waited more than 1 month for their 32 pages SHOULD obtain a 64 page passport as concession without delay.
3) STOP receiving payment for new passports unless they are able to issue it within the allocated time frame mentioned on the collection form.
4) Calls made to the NHC should be picked up in no more than three rings. All calls should be logged and callers sent an acknowledgment and reference number of their enquiry and where possible the department/individual dealing with their query.
Anything short of this is substandard, insulting and only proves that the Nigerian High commission are not willing to review, refine and improve its process, level of service and customer satisfaction.
The above solutions can be done within a 6 month window.
If this is something that can't be dealt with accordingly within this time frame, my self and other Nigerians nationals in the UK are more than willing to contribute our expertise to plan, implement changes and steer this ship on to a course that benefits both the people and those in office.
I am also requesting a sit down with the Acting High Commissioner to seek out what will be done, how it will be done and when this changes will be in effect.
All public officials in the High Commission need to be held to account and if there are shortfalls my colleagues and I will work with you to help reform the processes.
The Nigerian people are not the problem, we are willing to aid you in resolving the issue to enable a better service, positive public perception and improved public engagement.
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