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