Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is VFS Exploiting Nigerians?

VFS is acronym for VF Global Services Nigeria Ltd, the local visa processing agent for most embassies here in Nigeria. VFS services the British, US, Canadian, French, Netherlands, Italian and South African embassies here in Nigeria and perhaps even more.

They are the middle man between the visa applicant and the embassy. Daily applications for each of these embassies are about 100 on the average. So it suffices to say VFS processes about 700 applications daily for which VFS are paid a fixed sum for every application.

You might wonder where this is going but I have however noticed a trend with my last three visa applications which have prompted this post.

 In September 2012, I applied for a French visa and total fee was N17,835 of which N11,810 was the visa fee, N400 for SMS notifications and the balance N5,625 being VFS processing charges. The SMS' are intended to notify applicants of the status of their applications and inform when applicant’s visa is ready or otherwise. SMS rate as at that time was N5 per SMS but I did not receive a single SMS. I had to keep tracking my application via the VFS Nigeria website until it was ready.

In January 2013, I applied for a South African visa, again costs where similar but I cannot find the payment slips to give exact details.

I have also just renewed my UK visa and have once again been charged N400 for SMS notifications.

For my UK visa renewal which is very fresh in my memory. I received a total of four emails, and NOT a single SMS. By the way, SMS now cost N4 each which means cost to VFS would ideally be N16 whilst I was charged N400 and didn’t receive any notification.

If you do the maths, applying this to only UK visa applications alone, here’s what it adds up to:

100 applications/day x N400 x 5days x 4weeks = N800,000/month

If you apply that to 7 embassies, it implies N5.6million/month or N67.2million additional revenue/year for VFS Global Nigeria.

This is excluding the N5,000+ fees VFS receives per application.

Even if they spent N16 per applicant, VFS would still make N768,000/month.
Isn’t VFS exploiting Nigerians? Who regulates such organisations? Where’s the Consumer Protection Council in all of these? Isn’t this exploitation  tantamount to corruption?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oga at the Top: The reality of Nigeria’s public sector

I am quite sure that you all had your fair share of laughter from ‘The Oga at the Top’ video and the several spin-offs that came thereafter.
Amid all the humour, I realised that the event simply brought to the fore the reality at Nigeria’s public sector. Here are some truths about our public sector:
  1. Lackadaisical attitude to work. People just don’t care; or how would you explain the Commandant’s inability to give a complete website address?
2.      People are not empowered to take decisions or use their intuition, if you recall, the commandant feared to disclose a wrong website so that his Oga at the Top won’t disclose something else.
3.      The philosophy of ‘first name basis’ doesn’t apply in our public sector
4.      Computers are a ‘wonder’, most civil servants have no clue about where the power button of a computer is located let alone operating one to generate a report – like you and I do on a daily basis. What they tend to do is to have a computer room with two computer-literate personnel who churn out all the required documents.
5.      The Oga at the Top most probably doesn’t know how to use a computer
Think about NIPOST, PHCN, Police stations, the FRSC, LASTMA, NDLEA and more.  In how many of these places have you seen a computer? These are a few government agencies and parastals that I have interacted with and the story is the same. It is sad that Commandment turned the scapegoat and is now on suspension, but it would surprise you that the “Oga at the Top” doesn’t know how to operate a computer or the nscdc website.