Nigerians will not wound somebody with senseless corruption. We drove on very terrible roads up to the Nigerian border post with Benin at Seme and tried to be good citizens by presenting our passports.
Ah ha! Trouble in paradise!
We were quickly brought down to Earth when we were asked to pay Two thousand Naira to have our passports stamped.
It sounded like a joke at first, but we soon found out they were serious. Apparently, it was “normal” to pay money for the immigration services to put a stamp on your passport. And then on to DSS, and NDLEA and some other unnamed service, and then to the Beninoise desk, and then to Port Health! All these desks were in the same room and were systematically and shamelessly extorting money from table to table, doing brisk illegal business.
After almost an hour of this nonsense, we got angry and began to raise voices. I told them I was a journalist on a writing trip across West Africa, and I would make sure I write about the level of corruption at the Seme border.
At that point, they hurriedly stamped the passports and let us go. By this time we were totally enraged and almost turned back home. But thankfully we continued to Cotonou, unfortunately, we could not make a stop to test the quality of the Jollof because it was already getting dark and we needed to get to Lomé.
So, here we are in serene, laid back, peaceful Lomé with it’s pretty beaches and alluring charm. I have been to Lomé several times before but this time I’m determined to make it a more relaxing experience.
Let me show you what we’ve been up to…