Part or chapter of a book
Bureaucracy and the politics of identification in Nigeria. Issuing certificates of indigene and investigating citizens' ancestral origins
Identification and Citizenship in Africa. Biometrics, the Documentary State and Bureaucratic Writings of the Self
London : Routledge
185 - 202 p.
Nigeria, identity papers, citizenship, bureaucracy
For 40 years, Nigeria has separated its citizens into two categories, ‘indigenes’ and ‘non-indigenes.’ Indigene citizens can trace their genealogical roots back to a community in a specific locality. All local governments issue certificates of indigene to certify this origin, but the techniques of identification and the definition of the term indigene vary radically from one local government to another. This chapter explores the relationship between local government officers, the chiefs working for them, and users seeking a certificate in Oyo State and Plateau State. This bureaucratic relationship is a form of ordinary state-citizen interaction, yet it redefines an exclusive local citizenship. The chapter seeks to understand how applicants engage with these procedures, how ancestral origins are investigated, and the conditions in which issuing certificates of indigene can become a controversial political issue.