5 Nigerians Talk About Getting Their NIN

January 19, 2021

The deadline for Nigerian mobile subscribers without a National Identification Number (NIN) to register and link their sim is due in less than a month (February 9), and in this panoramaa, many people don’t want to go out to fix theirs. People like us have decided that last last, they will block all our sims because the stress involved to get your NIN in Nigeria is not worth it. 

Typically, the process of registering for a NIN entails a few steps that shouldn’t take less than thirty minutes to complete. It begins with filling a detailed profile form that will be inputted into a computer database. While this inputting happens, other bio-data will be captured along with one’s fingerprints and a passport photograph. You will be required to confirm your details after which a temporary NIN slip will be made available within 1-5 business working days depending on the authentication process of one’s registration center.

But this is Nigeria. With problems like understaffed registration centers, outdated registration equipment, and processes as well as the issue of bribery and NIMC officials charging for a registration that is completely free, getting it done at a go seems unlikely.

There are however a few Nigerians who have managed to get theirs between December when the mandatory registration was announced and now, and we spoke to them about how they did it and what it means to be God’s favourites.

Deborah, 19

First off, I’d like to say I paid for it. There were too many people at the Local Government office, and I wasn’t about to catch the rona. . I didn’t go there early because I already knew that I didn’t need to. We were taken to a private place, it was a gated residential building. They sat us under a tent according to the time we came. I think I was number 30. Each person was given a form, a very long excruciating form with repeated questions. We wrote out our BVN at the top of the form.  

The process itself wasn’t long, 5-10 minutes max (because before you appeared in front of the registrar, your form had to be filled). The man inputted the information on the form, then fingerprints were taken(four fingers and two thumbs) Then passport taking and your signature. No questions at all. The slip was ready a day after, and I picked mine up yesterday. That was all. This was last week Wednesday. The slip was ready on Thursday. 5k was the regular payment, but if you didn’t want to wait at all, it was 10k.

Ude, 21

I initially didn’t plan on going to register. I had planned on browsing with my wifi if they blocked my sim, but then my wifi provider began to email me to link my NIN, and that was when I was like “Oh, this is actually serious”. So on Monday, 21st December, I got to the registration centre around 10 a.m. and saw a lady walking out of the gate with her slip in hand. I asked how long it took her and what the process was like because I was more than willing to turn around and head home if it was stressful. 

She told me it took her 30 minutes, but that she had to run it with an official there and he helped her fast track it. I got his number from her and called him because when I walked into the compound and saw the crowd, I knew there was no way in hell I was joining it. 

He said that the office was already swamped and I should call around 4 p.m. to book an appointment for the next day (Tuesday). I called him that evening and he asked how far I was from the office. 

I was staying like 30 minutes away, so he told me to head down to the office immediately instead of having to wait till the next day. When I got there, there were like four people waiting for their slips.

He took me in, got a colleague to take my information and biodata, and asked me to wait for about 10/15 minutes. After some time had elapsed, he came out with the NIN Slip and paid 5k. 

He made sure to say that the NIN was free but that the money he was collecting was because he was fasttracking it and all. By 5:15 that evening, I had my NIN slip and I went home. 

Nneka, 24

I got mine in the last week of December after applying for it two weeks before. At the time I registered, not a lot of people had heard about the NIN situation. So the first time I got to the local government office, there were about 20 of us waiting until a NIMC official came to address us. She seemed angry that morning, and it turned out that she had heard people calling radio stations and accusing NIMC officials of receiving bribes and threatening to walk out anyone who tried to bribe anyone there. It didn’t take long before we were given forms to fill, and by 9 a.m. I had submitted it. I was hoping it would go smoothly, but before I was called in to check my height and make some corrections on my form, it was around 11 a.m. I was only able to do my bio-capture around 2 p.m., and while I was leaving, I heard people complaining that the delay was because some people who had just arrived were rushed in ahead of others. 

The next week I went to receive my NIN slip, it was a huge struggle because there were more people now, and at some point, the officials began to take money from people. The problem is that they were really understaffed.

Adedayo, 25

I went to the registration center at Ipaja LCDA on the 5th of January  and as I imagined, there were already over 200 people waiting outside and this was just at 7 a.m.. We had to wait outside for an hour and there was no local government official to speak with while we were waiting. I got to know that many of the people there had arrived as early as 4:30 a.m. and for some, it wasn’t their first or second day. At around 8 a.m., the gate was opened and we all went in.  There was no coordination or even someone to speak to us or enlighten us about the process. I saw some people who were speaking to a guy about the registration slip and the guy told them to follow him. An official eventually came out to speak to us after people complained but got upset about how someone spoke to him, so he said there won’t be any registration again that day. Apparently, someone had accused him and his colleagues of collecting bribes to do their job, which was true. The pandemonium continued for some minutes with some people making videos or taking pictures of the place. I was really worried that I wouldn’t get it done at all. 

Later another official came out to speak to us, stating that the name lists that had been compiled would be used to attend to us and those whose names weren’t  on the list would have to come back in April as those that have been coming before had been given dates in February and March. I was shocked. April ke?That’s when I knew they weren’t serious and decided to speak with the people who help make the process faster. I paid them ₦5,000, submitted my registration form, and returned the next day for capturing. 

The next day was much faster, I spent less than an hour before I was called in for my signing and thumbprinting. I was told to provide my BVN and other required background info. I did, and in less than 30 minutes I was given my NIN slip.

Peace, 27

I went to the NIMC office a week after news about the NIN registration was made. Mehn, the crowd. I just told myself that this was an impossible journey considering that people had been there since 5 or 6 a.m. Also, some irresponsible men were harassing and touching women inappropriately. So while waiting, this guy came around and told a few groups of us that he’d help us do it in another location made for some reserved people, but we had to pay 5k. We bargained till he agreed on 3k. The place he took us from the NIMC office was about 45 minutes. When we got to the new location, we met another group of people who were brought by their own agents too, but we weren’t able to register as it got late. We were told to return the next day between 6-7 in the morning. That night, our plug sent out a message that it was no longer 3k and would be 4k as the NIMC official was demanding a larger cut. We couldn’t even bargain 

I got to the office around 10 a.m. The next day and got my slip. 

You should read this too: Interview With The Remembrance Day Pigeons: “Tell Buhari We Have Just Started”

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