Losing an item at a Nigerian airport can be horrifying to say the least. You have zero guarantees of finding that item back…so I thought. On this faithful Friday morning, I lost my international passport.
I was headed to Akure from Lagos for a friends wedding. The flight was scheduled to leave at 1.00pm and I was already running late. I was flying out with another friend who arrived the airport 30 minutes prior. She pleaded with them and tried to print my boarding pass for me.
“Tell her to ensure she’s with her identification card when she’s coming”- I heard the ticketing officer say over the phone.
Usually, my form of identification is a copy of my bio data page via my phone. But for some odd reason, which I still cannot explain, I grabbed my passport and rushed to the airport. I got there right at the brink of time and as usual the flight was delayed for an additional two hours. Right before boarding the flight, I remember showing my passport right before boarding the flight. I remember seeing my passport on the bus commuting us to the flight. After that, everything became a blur.
I did not realize my passport was lost till I was done partying and it was time to head home. 2 days after arriving at my destination, Akure. I panicked when I couldn’t find it in my handbag or luggage. My room was checked briefly and it wasn’t there. I decided to go back to the basics and use the copy of my biodata page stored on my phone. I was almost certain it was somewhere at my parents residence and I’ll figure it out later.
Later came and my passport was nowhere to be found. The staff back at my parents had been drilled and threatened. All rooms in the house “ripped apart”.
“We can’t find your passport anywhere in this house. It’s definitely not here”
These words made my heart drop! My passport is/was literally my life. I was just imagining the hassle I’ll have to go through reporting my passport lost/stolen and acquiring a new one. I made a few phone calls and it involved police reports, swearing affidavits in court and a bunch of other requirements I was not interested in going through (we will be doing a feature on this process soon).
THE LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT
For over a week, I tried to cast my mind back to the last time I set my eyes on the passport. It then occurred to me that it could be somewhere at the airport. Maybe dropped out of my purse. With zero hope, I drove to the Lagos airport, Murtala Muhammad local airport, just to tick all boxes. I approached a random airport worker and told him my story.
“Hello, I’m looking for your lost and found department. I lost my passport here about a week ago on a flight from Lagos to Akure”
He immediately directed me to another guy who seemed like a superior. After a couple of questions, he took me to another counter with a log book. He checked based on the dates I provided and scrolled through the entries. I saw my name, last name and passport number and did 10 back flips! I couldn’t believe my eyes! There was also an entry for where your missing item was found; in my case the floor of the airplane. As I earlier predicted, my passport dropped from my bag.
He then took me to an office where I’ll search through a sea of missing items ranging from keys, bank tokens, debit cards, passports, ID cards, driving licenses and the list goes on. I couldn’t believe the magnitude of missing items kept for years. The man did not hesitate to inform me “every item we find here, we always keep. Even after 20 years, your items will still be here”. He also did not hesitate to remind me of the airport cleaner who found a huge sum of money and returned it.
I finally found my passport and leaped for joy! I sorted the guy with a little “something” and left grinning from ear to ear.
Don’t rule out the airport when searching for a missing item most especially if a flight was taken around that time. I know there is that tendency to say “its the airport. Someone must have nicked it”. The truth is you never know. I mean they take stock of every item brought to them and this is recorded in a log book. Everything works effectively. A less complex storage system is the only suggestion I’ll give. I had to go through a sea of random items that had probably been there for 20 years. Perhaps every item should be tagged in the year and month they came in.