Nigerian government digitalises issuance of birth certificate after MFWA Fellow’s report

Nigeria’s National Population Commission (NPC) has digitalized the issuance of birth certificates, ending years of manual processing. A directive to this effect came into force in February 2024. The migration to a national digital platform, among others, is to reduce the human interface and the attendant improprieties with manual processing.

At the NPC’s Abuja office, which is located at 17 Lingu Crescent, Wuse 2, a copy of a notice communicating the directive is prominently displayed on its gate with the inscription “Please, all applicant(s) for birth attestation should log in the below website for application:,.

This is a significant development, because the NPC’s directive was triggered by a story published from an undercover investigation undertaken at the same Abuja office, by a Fellow of a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) Journalism Fellowship Programme recently hosted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).

“We realized that some of the officials of the NPC, were taking advantage of a rush for birth certificates to extort money from unsuspecting members of the public. We did a first story about it, but they denied and so we decided to go under cover,” explains Ameh Ejekwonyilo, a Fellow of the MFWA’s DPI Journalism Fellowship.

Ameh is a journalist with Premium Times, a leading investigative online news portal in Nigeria.  On February 24, 2024, the media outlet published the story titled: INVESTIGATION: NPC officials devise new extortion strategy after Premium Times report.

The story exposed extortionate conduct on the part of some officials of the NPC at the Abuja office of the Commission, who were taking advantage of a rush for new birth certificates to wring money from persons who wanted certificates.

Following the expose’, the NPC shut down the Abuja office and announced the total migration of the acquisition and processing of birth certificates onto the official federal digital platform –

A DPI Fellowship story

The story is one of six that Ameh was required to publish as part of key deliverables for his participation in MFWA’s DPI Journalism Fellowship. Hosted in Accra, Ghana, from September 2023 to December 2023 (with post Fellowship activities till March 2024), the Fellowship was funded by Co-Develop, a global nonprofit fund accelerating the adoption of safe and inclusive shared digital public infrastructure at scale.

The Fellowship was purposed to inculcate a culture of critical and in-depth journalism on the adoption of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPIs) and Digital Public Goods (DPGs) as means of public service delivery by African governments.

New skills, new interest

According to Ameh, the skills he learnt at the Fellowship have since helped him develop a keen sense of news and interest in DPI/DPG related issues.

“Until I got into the DPI journalism fellowship in September last year, I did not quite appreciate the extent of the deficits in Nigeria’s digital public infrastructure. Therefore, the opportunity given to me by MFWA and Co-develop to enhance my journalistic knowledge in DPI and DPGs reporting is something I will cherish forever.”

In an appreciation note to the MFWA, Ameh added that, “In my little way, I want to pledge my commitment to promoting awareness of DPI and DPGs in Nigeria and across the West African subregion.”

Even though the MFWA already has a tradition of hosting Fellowships for journalists under its Next Generation Investigative Journalism (NGIJ) Fellowship programme, the DPI Journalism Fellowship was the first of its kind. A total of 20 journalists from 10 West African countries participated in the Fellowship to build knowledge, skills and expertise in reporting on issues related to DPI and DPGs. So far, more than 100 DPI/DPG -related stories have been produced and published by the Fellows.

Share this story!

Related Stories