Surviving Nigeria with 'long arms'
If you can't beat the system; the indiscipline, the madness, the perpetual inadequateness,you better have long arms.
I attended a private Catholic university. I hated it like most other students did, but it wasn't because I was a Muslim. I hated that it seemed the school was founded simply to torture students to death with ridiculous bureaucratic processes, long waiting times for everything, and obvious disregard for our dignity as human beings. Maybe this sounds harsh but that's how I felt at the time. And now, I'm in a place that is picking at those scabs.
That place is National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Emene, Enugu. I came here to get my National Identity Number (NIN) done. Apparently, the federal government will “seize” the money in my account if I don’t do it by January. I didn’t think this was true until I got to the NIMC office and heard people complain that they couldn’t withdraw money from their bank accounts.
I stopped by the NIMC office to make enquiries yesterday and decided to return this morning so I won’t have to deal with a crowd. I got here about an hour after their resumption time (you have to give government workers time).
I got inside and there were only a few people. Awesome. It didn't take long before I was given a form to fill. I filled and submitted it. Then the waiting started. About 20 minutes into waiting, a tall man with a fine moustache and a friendly demeanour entered the room to address us. I'll paraphrase:
“Everybody welcome o. You see, in this place, we have not had light at all for two years. Like no electricity. But we have a generator. What we do is whenever there are many of you like this, we ask you to contribute anything you have so we can buy fuel for the generator. It is a big generator but bring whatever you have. One of you should organise the contributions so we can send the security man to go and buy the fuel.”
Everyone complied easily, no loud complaints. Nothing. Things like this are not new in Naija. We couldn't blame the staff either.
After the contributions were made, we were told to stand in a line and take numbers. Everyone else was faster than I. It was a line for like two seconds and then it wasn't a line anymore. Everyone was eager to get their number so they wouldn't be too far behind.
The entire scene was the madness I recognised from school all over again. Finally, when I managed to get a number, I was number 12. 12 out of 14. The lady at the desk laughed when she saw me. She asked, “where were you?”
I managed to laugh and said something like “they blocked me”.
Her response: “Eiyya, your arms are not long enough.” She laughed again.
I'm still here, waiting in another room. I hear we'll have to wait to be told when to return to complete the process. In Nigeria, if you can't beat the system; the indiscipline, the madness, the perpetual inadequateness, you better know how to push and shove and cut the line to get to the front. You better have long arms.
P.S.: The generator developed a fault and I was asked to return the next day.
Written by Korede Azeez.
Korayday Azeez has been everything from a cheerleader to a podcaster. In all the confusion, she has always written. Weird, dark stories mostly. She posts flash fiction on Instagram via @colourlessafrica and dumps weird stories on korayday.wordpress.com. She would love to be a cyborg.
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