"I wonder at times"

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt

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Creative Nonfiction Adventure Historical Fiction

He went abroad to make ends meet. The economic environment here in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. There is no more any group referred to as middle class. I wonder seriously what our so called leaders are doing to allow the situation to deteriorate to this pitiable level. The result of course is always mass immigrations to other countries. That was exactly what led Jerry to Asia, China to be precise.

He went to China with plan of returning back in two years time no matter his economic status. It turned out to be the case of man proposing and God disposing. One thing led to another, after moving around as a free man in China for almost two years, he was preparing for his journey back home when he had police case and journey of two years ended up being fifteen years one.

After serving twelve years prison sentence, he was deported on first quarter of the year and it turned out to be corona quarters. He met lockdown policy of government and was detained in Lagos for three months in a relation house. For three months he was only speaking with his family on phone, snapping pictures on phones and sending. In fresh and blood, he was still in prison to his family members till they see him in fresh. Fifteen years is not fifteen days. Helpless to get to his city and family, he decided to open account through which his family will send him little money to be managing himself till the end of the lock-down. He went to the bank he was using before he traveled abroad; the bank has been acquired by another bank. The officials there told him that his passport has expired for years, and that type of passport is no more in use in Nigeria, above all, when he opened the account, the system of coding the customer image in his account wasn’t in use, so there is no way there will ascertain that he is the true owner of the account he want them to reactivate. He was advised to return to his city where he opened the account to reactivate it from there.

He went to the other banks to open a fresh account, he met with similar obstacles, he was told to present identification papers, and he gave them his passport which they rejected. He narrated his story to them, he was told to exercise patient till lock-down ends then he can do anything he wants to do from his city. He went to another bank only to meet the same fate. He told them to open student account for him when he gets back to his city, he would upgrade it to normal account, but they refused telling him that it is risky on their part. First, he was from prison, second he don’t reside in Lagos, thirdly, he is not a student, fourthly why is he in a haste to open account, how will they be sure that it will not be used for illegal dealings. He was advised to go and get new passport, driving License, national identity card or voters registration card. The relation he was staying in his house doesn’t have any of the above mentioned requirements. The man was managing his retail business with his family, he doesn’t have any need for bank account. In fact, he doesn’t trust anyone taking care of his money more than himself.

So all these obstacles made Jerry to turn his attention to getting national identity card which is the cheapest of all the requirements. Others are in double digit thousands. The local government that he went, told him that national identity card is a federal project and the workers are federal workers. So therefore, the workers are all observing lock-down laws and orders. Another person directed him to another local government. Over there, he was stopped at the gate. The gate man wanted to know his mission. When he told him, the gate man asked him if he has bank verification number, he said no. the man told him that the workers were on break observing lock-down order, but if he can pay six thousand, he will go and meet his boss and he will open the office of the identity card workers and use their machine. According to him, that was how others do theirs. Jerry doesn’t have that amount so he was told to try military barrack that they do the cards there too.

At the barrack, the soldier at the gate was asking him all manners of questions both home and abroad one’s. So, he decided to cancel the barrack option from his list and respect himself.

He decided to try the banks people refers to second class banks, at those banks, the story was the same. One staff there told him to try united banks of Africa (UBA) that he heard that they were into national identity card runs. Over there in UBA, the gate man told him that they have stopped the identity card issuing last week, that it attract a lot of crowd, the management don’t like that. As all these running about were going on in Lagos, three months came to pass. As federal government did not extend the lock-down, Jerry made his way back to east.

After seeing his parents and siblings for the first time after fifteen years, he decided once again to put his house in order in terms of obtaining everything every normal citizen supposed to have. The problems he encountered in Lagos were still there for some weeks in the east. The local government has started work fully, but the office of the national identity card is a federal project, they have not started then.

He went to his bank, and the staff in charge of customer services section was behaving as if she was following orders from unseen forces. First, Jerry requested for activation form, she gave him both activation and change of address form and told him to fill the two. When he told her that he only want to reactivate not change address she turned to national identity card and energy bill. Jerry presented energy bill, the lady persisted that he should present national identity card. When he finally got national id card about a month later, the lady at the customer service found another problem that exist in her imagination. She said that the surname, first and middle name in their system did not march the one in the national identity card. That the first name in their system is only an initial that they don’t know what it stands for. Could you believe that it took Jerry petitioning their head office for almost three weeks before they started disturbing the branch office to listen to his problem. In fact they even supported the branch claim and Jerry, out of frustration refused to talk to them again. About weeks later, he was called to come to the bank that they have ratified his problems. 

September 05, 2020 10:52

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1 comment

S. Asad
11:06 Sep 12, 2020

This is such a great story. I really appreciate you for this. All these things feel real. Good job and keep writing.


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