My Humorous Visit to the MTN Office

This fork is a souvenir from the MTN office. But let me start from the beginning. So the NIN registration for me represents a way for our people in Abuja to kill their boredom. It is either a venture to feel the fulfilment of doing something at the moment or a punishment for the unity in the dislike for President Buhari. They feel entertained, knowing that Nigerians are being jolted from their beds at 4 am to resume another day of struggle for a registration that has, so far, proved useless. Or they feel accomplished and powerful, perhaps, watching a horde of frustrated humans rushing around like a cattle herd. The exercise – in the literary sense – summarises the administrative backwardness of an overloaded national bureaucracy a.k.a Federal Government of Nigeria a.k.a pot of soup. The task of national registration should be left to the local government area where each Nigerian resides. At once, the “exercise” represents the lubricant oil for the engine of corruption in some Nigerians. The impossible stress and forced bribery made me abandon it for some time.

Back to the fork story, I was informed that my telecommunications provider could do it for me without extortion. No bribes? No bribes! I got to the Ring Road office of MTN at around 6 am only to find a queue outside of the company’s compound. More like a crowd and an already extended list. The person before me was number 50-something. Definitely, it would be a NIN Day for me. But then, in the queue, I was the only person wanting to do the registration. The rest were there for SIM swap. At 6 am? A man claimed, later, he had been there a few minutes before 4 am. After much waiting – standing actually – at past 8 am, a worker came to address the crowd of more than 100 in the middle of loud traffic and without a public address system.

I heard her say “good morning everybody…” and then “…squashsquashsquash hsyehjsujwjksg.” I could not hear jack from what she was saying. A few seconds later, a rude male came out to start giving orders, asking people to move to an already overcrowded space with no space. At that point, COVID-19 restrictions had no relevance. Instantly, a rush resumed. The rude male was soon joined by a female version of rude. “See the way, they’re controlling us in our Yoruba land.” It was an ‘elderly’ man. He was later joined by a much younger youth. “They are Igbos.” “See the way we are suffering in Yoruba land.” At that point, I could not hide my anger at such lurid idiocy.

What has ‘Yoruba’ got to do with two rude staff who probably are Yoruba themselves? I gave a sharp retort. Baba kept quiet. The young man quickly changed the topic. “I mean they are oyinbo people. They were killing our people.” Still befuddled by the lurid idiocy, I asked him to blame his national government for not retaliating when the xenophobic attacks happened. Meanwhile, those who attacked Nigerians were black. I doubt I added that. Finally, I was able to enter the gate without thanksgiving and without any stains on my white Buba at around 9 am as number 12 despite being the first to arrive for that purpose. A second queue While in the second queue, sitting this time, I heard two subaltern staff talking about the unruly behaviour of the crowd outside. I interrupted them and resumed a lecture on how a big, 21st-century telecom organisation like MTN is expected to be more creative.

How it could easily have dealt with the relatively small crowd using a public address system and used the service of a respectful, well-mannered humane worker. I went back to my seat, knowing some sense had been discharged. Waiting. 10 am. “Mr President!” It was an alumnus of my University. “It’s so nice to see you. Why are you in the queue? Are you not in a haste? What do you care to have? Do you need anything to eat?” Attention. Focus. All eyes around came out to get a sneak peek at the lanky ‘boy’ someone was called his ‘president’. “No, I am okay. And yes I need to do it as soon as I can. So I won’t reject any help since I came here before anybody else. Ask them…” I looked around, “They all met me here.” No objections were raised.

The struggle jolted me to number 12 and while they were dealing with the filling of a form, I walked past number 6 but still not number one. “Okay. I’ll order something first.” “No, I am okay thank you.” “No. Mr President, please.” “Ah. Thank you o.” Naturally, an unwelcomed rude nose poker from the back intruded in our discussion; “Mr President, they are begging you with food and you are doing ako. Please bring the food for me oga. Me I am hungry.” Alumnus disappeared for minutes. The queue moved. Alumnus reappeared with the package. “Here sir.” “Thank you very much o, I’m grateful.” Alumnus disappeared again into the office. Possibly to go find the space. But the queue moved quickly and soon I was face to face with a calm staff who thinks I look like Barack Obama. “You have to come back on Thursday. It appears you have a NIN number attached to your BVN.” No! I really minded coming back and explaining to him that I had to leave work and come from a far place.

Moreover, I had spent 5 hours there already. “Oh because you are Obama?” “Yes because I am Obama.” “Okay, grab a sit and fill this form.” Looking like Obama – an opinion, not mine – has a good side after all. Another beard statement It was about 12pm already and the man’s hungry. I took time out to gourmand the food gift – name withheld. Finally, I was back to another seat to do the registration with a pretty-looking – general opinion – female staff. Then another bombshell dropped. “Are you sure you were born on this date?” “What? Yes!” She looked at the form again and back at me. “Really?” “Sorry?” I had begun laughing. A heavily bearded customer around joined the fray. “I do not look like it?” “No!” More laughter. “Please remove your face mask, I need to take a picture of you.” Boom! “You don’t even have a beard!” Postscript: I can’t wait to get married and wear my wedding ring to attain some respect from this Nigerian society.

Ojo, Aderemi Ibadan, Nigeria. ojderemi@gmail.com @realojoaderemi


Ojo, Aderemi is a Historian, teacher, public speaker, writer, politician, and community organiser. He was trained at the University of Ibadan and was President of the Students Union.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *