Tag Archives: Identification

Identity Disaster

Mr. Olaiya’s jaw dropped as he looked at the lady standing before him. She was dressed in a skimpy dress that barely covered her thighs. The man holding her by the waist was wearing a white jalabia and the expression on his face was irritation.

“Moriamo, you deny me your father?”

Chief looked at Stella and also at the strange man. “Mr. man, she say she no know you. What is your problem? You are constituting a nuisance and I fit call the police.”

Ah! Moriamo, èmi bàbá ë. Ayé mi!” (Moriamo, I am your father). The man exclaimed.

“Chief, let’s go. I don’t know this man and he is embarrassing me.” Stella said.

Ah! Ah! Sèbí, mo sín gbéré sí ë láyà ní ìkókó. Jë ki n ri? (I made an incision on your chest as a baby. Let me see it).

“What is he saying?” Chief asked as he looked at Stella.

“I don’t know Chief. I don’t understand what he is saying. Please, let’s go.” Stella said as she pulled Chief away from the scene. The strange man was beginning to garner a few stares.

Chief and Stella left Mr. Olaiya whose hand was on his head in lamentation.

********

The next day, Chief and Stella flew back into Nigeria. Stella convinced Chief that she wanted to cut short her vacation as her encounter with the strange man had made her homesick. She wanted to go home to see her mother and also visit her dead father’s grave; she told him.

 

Immediately they arrived into the country, Stella took a cab to see her mother in Akute. As the cab took her to her destination, she kept thinking about the encounter she had in the United States. She shook her head to dispel her thoughts as she approached her house.

Stella eased out of the cab, paid the driver and took out her hand luggage from the boot. A woman stood outside an unpainted bungalow throwing corn grains at some chickens. She stopped when she saw Stella walking towards her.

“Ëkáàsán màámi.” (Good afternoon my mother). Stella said as she knelt down.

Moriamo, ökö mi. Káàbò.” (Welcome, my husband).

Báwo ni ilé-ìwé?” (How is school?)

Adúpé mà.” (Thank God).

Bàámi nkó?” (What about my father?)

Jë ka wö inú ilé náá, ògiri l’étí.” (Let us go inside. The walls have ears).

Moriamo dragged her hand luggage into the small living room and put it by the side. As she sat down on the single couch, she looked eagerly at her mother.

Bàbá ë ti lö fa gbùrù ní ilú òyinbó.” (Your father has travelled abroad to hustle).

Moriamo bent her head as she thought of her encounter with her father. She knew he was her father. A man knew his children but how was she supposed to explain her business in the U.S? How was she supposed to explain that she had told Chief she was bored in school and wanted to go on vacation? She had had no choice but to deny knowing him. He was right that she had been given an incision on her chest as a child. When she kept falling ill, her father had taken her to visit a herbalist who had give her the incision and her bout of sicknesses had ceased immediately.

As she went to bed that night, she decided the United States was no longer a country to visit.

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Photo Credit: https://www.collaborativelifecoaching.com

My Journey to Identification

“Olubukola, your BVN data have [sic] been enrolled with NIMC. Tracking ID: BVN_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. Visit any NIMC office to update your data and get your NIN.”

I received the above text message some weeks ago. Sender’s details stated NIMC. My first hunch was to delete it. I was about to, when on second thoughts, I decided to bring out my laptop. I opened up Google and typed NIMC in the search box. My search revealed the National Identity Management Commission website. So it was not a scam after all. I decided to make more enquiries from the website and found out forms and other information regarding identifying myself as a citizen of my beloved country, Nigeria.

I download and print out the attached forms, fill it out and search for an office closest to me on their website. I find that one is just a few metres walk from my house. Cool! I get dressed the next day and begin my journey to identification.

journey-to-id

Considering that it is a government-run program, I assume they would not get started until 10.00am. My daughter and I leave home at about 9.30am. In about fifteen minutes, we get there and I am surprised that the office is open at 9.45am. There is also a considerable amount of people waiting. Hmm! This is a nice change for a government-run program, I say to myself.

I declare my intention to get identified and I am asked the basic question. “Do you have a valid means of identification?” – To which I respond in the affirmative. I produce the ID and my filled form and there is a smile on the lady’s face. “I have not seen this form in a long while.” She says to her colleague. “Our job would be easier with this.” She continues. I am asked to take my height measurement and this is imputed on my form. “Please wait outside until you are called.” I am told.

My daughter whips out her novel, while I read mine on my mobile phone. A few minutes later, I am called in. I am actually surprised at the speed with which the process is run. I sit in a queue in the office and soon, I am next in line. I take a seat beside a guy who begins to input my details into his desktop. My form gives an edge over others as he does not need to ask me any questions. His eyes move from my form to his desktop and the only sound between us is the sound of his fingers clacking on the keyboard. Everything goes smoothly until……

There is a power-cut. The desktop goes blank and the guy imputing my details hisses as he sits back. I look at his face. “You don’t have a UPS?” I ask him foolishly; as if I did not see his desktop go blank. He ignores me and asks that a colleague sitting by the window, lift up the venetian blinds for air. There is a generator by the lady pulling the venetian blinds and I am relieved that it would be switched on very soon. I hoped too soon.

We are all ordered outside and asked to wait till PHCN decides to give them light. What!!!! In this great country? Someone still depends solely on government light? We all walk out and wait for the Nigerian miracle to happen. An hour passes and more people join the queue. Everyone waiting for the miracle of PHCN.

About an hour and a half later, the guy informs us that the local government usually powers the premises at noon. Hopefully, they will power their office. This gives the waiting applicants a sense of hope. Noon is just about 30 minutes away. An hour later, we are told they will power the premises at 1.00pm. We all grumble but still decide to wait. The local government eventually powers the premises but decide whose office to power or not. Our hope is dashed as we realize that this is going to be a very long wait.

 

Collection of ID cards begin at 1.00p.m. Applicants seeking to collect begin to arrive in trickles and the whole office area soon becomes crowded. My daughter signals to me that she is hungry and would love to get gala outside. “If you stand up, someone else would take your seat.” I tell her. She decides to stay put and bear the hunger pangs.

At about 1.30pm; three hours after I should have been captured, an officer working with a para-military organization in the local government premises decides to empower the office with some cash to power their office. The generator is carried out of the office and filled with fuel. The guy who was initially imputing my details decides to give a lecture before the generator is powered.

“Only those whose names have been written down for capturing will be attended to. Every other person should come back tomorrow morning.” There are a lot of grumbles and mumbles but he is undeterred. “If you do not know your mother’s hometown, please call her and confirm before you get to the desk for capturing. If we ask you a question and you don’t have an answer to it, we would send you out and call someone else in. We have only five litres of fuel and we still need to do biometrics for those collecting as well.” He concludes.

I walk back in to take my seat beside the guy and in two minutes, I am captured and identified. I am asked to return three days later for collection of my ID. Three days is long past and it is yet to be available. I wonder how long I still have to wait to end my journey to identification. I hope I get to my destination soon and be identified as a citizen of this great country, Nigeria.

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Photo Credit: http://www.deviantart.com