Postal Codes for Nigerian Cities

Nigerian Postal or Zip Codes

Yes, Nigerian Cities do have postal codes, and the current NIPOST website does not make it easy to obtain this information, so here goes. One entry is missing from the list, but that’s because I erred in the transcription process. I’ll include it if/when I do lay my hands on it.

Note, there are a lot more postcodes than this. There should in theory be one per street. I hope to find some time to make a better and searchable tool for this information soon.

Abia, Umuahia 440001
Abuja, Abuja 900001
Adamawa, Yola 640001
Akwa-Ibom 520001
Anambra 420001
Bauchi 740001
Borno 600001
Cross-River, Calabar (let me know)
Delta 320001
Edo 300001
Enugu 400001
Imo 460001
Jigawa 720001
Kano 700001
Kaduna 800001
Katsina 820001
Kebbi 860001
Kogi 260001
Kwara 240001
Lagos, Island 101001
Lagos, Mainland 100001
Niger 920001
Ogun 110001
Ondo 340001
Osun 230001
Oyo 200001
Plateau 930001
Rivers 500001
Sokoto 840001
Taraba 660001
Yobe 320001
Ebonyi, Abakaliki 840001

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Random quote: We give advice, but we cannot give the wisdom to profit by it. — La Rochefoucauld

Follow-up on pieces of a dream

I have limited net access, as well as battery, so this is a quick note to inform those who were following this series.

I eventually subscribed to Glo’s data services. At the existing prices, for a 24-hour/30-day subscription, Glo charges 29kobo per Megabyte, and Mtn charges 31 kobo per megabyte. Negligible difference, but I find glo’s network more stable and usable.

I managed to make the subscription after visiting Glo’s Abuja office. They require some sort of identification, and they give you a sim card which does not permit voice calls. Not fun, but better than nothing still. It costs ₦7,000 per month for a 2GB cap.

My MTN subscription will expire in a week, and I’ve used less than 3% of its value. My email to NCC’s complaint box has not been responded to in two weeks now, so…

The only problem is that I am in a small town in Katsina state now, and I have to travel 40KM before I can get useful network signal… I try to fill the idle times with books on my phone. Try if you haven’t. The books can be costly, but well, I consider books to be a worthwhile investment whenever I can afford them. I have only ever bought one book though. I scavenge for free books mostly (Sci-fi fiction books by Cory Doctorow are usually free of charge, and of high quality. The books are also sold on Amazon, he makes electronic versions free as a way to market the print version )

Random quote: Drilling for oil is boring.

Pieces of a Dream, part 2

Two forces are currently regulating the tone of this message. The first is that I got some insider comments on the first part of this article, telling me of options which I was hitherto unaware of, for venting my frustration, and getting retribution for whatever wrongs I feel I have suffered at the hands of these operators. This gave me the subtle reminder that I sometimes sound like I have a personal score to settle. Not quite true.

The second force has to do with the rather ironic fact that as I sit here, I have observed a new problem with my current subscription, which is due to expire on the 27th of April, and of whose 3GB capacity I have only utilized 4%. Not one to give up so easily, I utilized an idle SIM card, and made another subscription today, a much cheaper one, because I needed internet access in order to continue work on a current web development project and I figured that driving off to an Internet cafe 5 kilometres from Judges Quarters Layout in Makurdi and then paying ₦200 per hour for the four or five hours I might like to be online is more expensive than paying MTN ₦500 for their flat 50MB-a-day plan. I ended up paying MTN ₦500, and then driving 5km to the cafe, waiting 40 minutes for electrical power to be restored, and then sitting in a rather small chair and trying to work with all the distractions inherent in such an environment. Well, I won’t get paid if I don’t complete the project… and you know I need the money :)

MTN, MTN, MTN. Will you try something else already? Oh yes, I did mention it wasn’t so straightforward. You see, I believe (no empirical data, just experience that comes from my patronage of both networks) that Glo maintains a more stable network than MTN, even though it has become a less advanced one. You can almost always trust their data services to work as advertised, and they no longer do those annoying port-blocking tricks. MTN seems to block port 25 at will (you might have noticed that randomly, you can’t send email using Outlook while you’re on an MTN connection).

I made the decision to subscribe to Glo’s data services long ago, despite the tempting speeds that MTN advertises in some of their coverage areas. The only problem I had was that information about Glo’s service was scarce. Well, unlike MTN, Glo has customer care offices in many State capitals in this country, but in Abuja, I hardly have time during working hours to go and get a proper lunch, much less stand in line for extended periods of time waiting for someone to attend to me (Glo’s Abuja office is usually crowded). I decided to make enquiries at their Makurdi office when next I was home on a working day. It’s the same company, so they should have the same information.

I did find out pricing information, but beyond that, everything else was paper shredder stuff.

"My needs are simple. I can already browse with my phone, I understand you have a subscription plan. I am interested in it, since it will help me save costs" is how I tried to explain myself.

"You will need a special 2-gig SIM card and a Modem to go with it." The word "Lagos" was thrown in severally.  (Yes, I wondered what "2-gig SIM" meant too)

What part of my French is so difficult to understand? (I thought). "Do you guys have an engineer around? Can I speak with him/her? " I still wonder how I managed to ask that last question without coming off as an arrogant and over-confident customer, the kind who think they are king simply because they are paying for a service :) . I’ve been in customer service before, so I know how annoying that is.

The engineer turned out to be nothing more than the resident computer guru-ess. She was a cool-looking lady in 70s style make-up. She was nice and courteous, and gave me the same line her colleague had given me earlier.

I’m sure you’re getting my drift. I still don’t know how to subscribe to Glo’s data services, even though I know that I don’t need a modem, and I think that "2-gig SIM" is just a euphemism for their bandwidth cap (2 gigabyte), and that it can be technically made to apply to any SIM card at all. As I write this email, Glo’s GPRS network has been down in Makurdi for more than three days now. I am between a rock and a hard place indeed.

It might be interesting to recount here an experience I had with Starcomms, a "CDMA 3G" operator as they like to call themselves. While I was in Abuja, I subscribed to Starcomms nightly plan (9pm to 9am everyday, nightly plans are cheaper). It made no mention of bandwidth caps. I figured they didn’t need to impose any caps, since the speed of the service meant that utilization will almost always be within reasonable limits. You see, I got this service for a purpose. I wanted to download the new Debian 4.0 (Etch) system that had just been released. I set my computer up almost exclusively for this purpose, and every night, I dutifully resumed my download. It was a 4.2 gigabyte download. I managed to pull 1200 megabytes in about a week, and then one night, my Internet refused to work. Starcomms makes it easy to call for support. They have a 24-hour hotline. I filed my complaint, and they told me everything was ok. Well, I can talk very techie, so I didn’t let them get away with that. The person at the other end of the line eventually admitted she didn’t know what the problem was.

I had a good idea what the problem was, and frankly, it annoyed me. You see, how I managed to download 1200MB within a week on an 88kbps line was by constantly keeping the line busy. I lived in a part of town that hardly suffered power failures, so I was always able to get online when I needed to, and to Starcomms’ credit, their service was reliable enough. I WAS A HEAVY USER. I think along the line, someone decided to pull the plug on me.

At this point, my brain started working. I spend nearly all my working day online, in front of the computer. I shouldn’t continue into the night, depriving myself of sleep and other real life activities (such as doing the laundry, or even cooking dinner, and I was getting horrible at these) just to get online again… so, I didn’t need Starcomms. I was satisfied with my reasons, so I never bothered Starcomms with another call. One fateful day, a week or so later, I came home from work and was told that someone from starcomms had called asking after me. They left a message that my service had been restored, and that I could get online again. It was good news, but I had already moved on with my life. The subscription withered, eventually expired, and the mandatory reminder emails kept rolling in, reminding me to renew my subscription… 

This time though, I’m against the wall. It will take stronger and more radical reasons to convince me that I no longer need Internet access… perhaps I should pack a box of books and take with me to the secondary school in the far north of Nigeria, where I will be teaching mathematics, and plunge myself backwards into the 19th Century, where the Federal Government’s ₦9,775 monthly allowance will afford me all but an elegant lifestyle :)

Random quote: Mankind’s yearning to engage in sports is older than recorded history, dating back to the time millions of years ago, when the first primitive man picked up a crude club and a round rock, tossed the rock into the air, and whomped the club into the sloping forehead of the first primitive umpire. What inner force drove this first athlete? Your guess is as good as mine. Better, probably, because you haven’t had four beers. — Dave Barry, "Sports is a Drag"

Pieces of a Dream

Once upon a time (2000), we had fewer than 400,000 telephone lines in Nigeria…

By 2009, Nigeria had an estimated 65,000,000 lines, most of them mobile (wireless). Communication is now a lot easier than it was before, and one rather good side-effect of this growth is that much more people now have access to the Internet.

While this on the whole is a positive thing, one of the big problems of the pre-GSM era persists. The problem of the unreachable corporation. Back in the day, it was necessary to sympathise with any telephone line owner who was unlucky enough to have any issues with their phone line. The ensuing process, from filing a complaint to getting the issue resolved was one of those nice little things which one could conveniently wish on his worst enemy with a keen sense of self-satisfaction if his wish was eventually granted.

Today, we have three big telecommunications companies (ignoring the relatively smaller players), and a regulatory body, the Nigerian Communications Commission. In the past, this NCC was often referred to as an example of a purposeful and well-run Nigerian establishment. It’s leader was an icon, much like the famed Dora of NAFDAC. This is not to say that telecommunication was rosy in the early days of GSM, its more like the regulator was actually visibly working to keep things moving as they were meant to.

A series of bad experiences in recent times have led me to wonder what has changed over the last one year. Much has. GPRS is now ever more affordable, and less restricted than it was, coverage has improved so much so that packet data services can be assumed to be available wherever there is GSM coverage for any network of your choice. I remember lamenting on the hitherto high costs of this service. I guess my prayers got answered. There is a layer of thorns behind this cloud though.

Whenever I am in need of internet access, my phone is the easiest device to run to. Yes, there usually is GPRS, and the cost is a lot lower now than it was at this same period last year, and most networks even have a subscription plan to help you save even more. I’ll avoid complaining about their annoyingly low data transfer caps for now.

At the fore-front of the mobile internet bandwagon is MTN-Nigeria. They seem to have deployed the most capable network of all the other networks (I have experienced speeds of up to 3.5mbps while using MTN), and have coverage in more areas than their competition. They also have the most accessible, albeit klunky subscription platform which is based on SMS and pay-as-you-go recharge vouchers.

There are many issues with MTN’s internet access platform. First of all, their whatSMS processing machine is often unable to respond to subscriber’s requests, causing disconcerting delays when you urgently need to grab something off the internet. If you have ever queried for your current bandwidth utilization in order to decide whether or not to continue browsing, and failed to get a response within the hour, then you understand me.

Next, their metering platform is not fine-grained enough. It measures bandwidth in rather large units–megabytes. The net effect of this is that you are either bound to exceed your cap, and therefore get billed the comparatively high cost for any additional transfers that occur, or you always stop using the service before your cap is exceeded, loosing a bit of bandwidth that is rightfully yours in the process. I lost a few hundred Naira in this manner on several occasions.

Finally, if the service is poor, there is absolutely nothing that you as a paying client can do about it. There is no avenue to make a complaint, and there certainly isn’t any obvious re-compensation process. My erstwhile neighbour made a subscription which he was unable to utilize, and was unable to get a refund, despite visiting MTN’s corporate headquarters to file a complaint. As I write this article, I have a subscription which I have been unable to utilize since activation, and I can’t find who to complain to.

After scratching a good amount of hair off my head, I finally arrived at the conclusion that regardless of your subscription status, you must have about ₦1 on your phone before you can surf the internet using MTN.

In such a sub-optimal situation, and since there are alternatives, the best thing to do is to look at the others, right? I wish it was this straightforward. In my case, the only real alternative is Glo Mobile, since no other option is easily accessible across the parts of Nigeria I frequent.

To be continued.

Random quote: Never test for an error condition you don’t know how to handle. — Steinbach