Following the suspension of the use of the National Identity Number, NIN, as a requirement to sit this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam, UTME, some Nigerians have described the decision to make the NIN mandatory for the Exam as well as its requirement for virtually all transactions with government agencies as another example of a good policy being implemented at the wrong time.
Our Correspondent who interacted with some Nigerians at the Surulere Local Government and the Zonal Headquarters of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, in Alausa Ikeja, prior to the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board’s announcement of the suspension reports that some of the respondents who were unhappy with the pressure of the registration process suggested ways to make it easier for citizens to obtain the NIN.
Though NIMC had been registering citizens since 2012, many people did not take it seriously until the mandatory requirement for UTME.
Investigations revealed that most of the people who did register in 2012 collected only the slip issued at the point of registration which did not have an assigned number and a large number of them did not go back to obtain the temporary slip which has their NIN.
Investigations also showed that between 2012 and 2019, only a small portion of those duly registered by NIMC had been given the permanent ID card.
When Radio Nigeria visited the Surulere office and the Zonal Headquarters of the NIMC, both locations were besieged by people of all ages and social statuses with many of them milling around like customers at a once in a weekly market.
Those who spoke with Radio Nigeria claimed that they had been on the process for days and the situation was fast becoming unbearable as they queue for hours only to return the next day to face the same ordeal due to various issues, including lack of printing paper, poor internet connection and sometimes, power failure.
“I have been fighting for that slip since one week now, sometimes, they will tell us no paper, the machine server, it’s very frustrating and the worst part of it is that they can keep us on the queue for like hours and at the end of the day, they will just tell us to go home” some of the respondents complained
“I want to register but the crowd I met here is crazy, Someone is telling me now, he said he’s been here as early as four and it is 1 pm now and he is still here”, one of the respondents said.
Others also alleged “I registered around Ikotun, I have been going to Ikotun for a couple of weeks they asked me to come to Ikeja that they are out of paper, they would tell you they are putting your name on a list and at the end of the day, they would call the list and your name is not there and some people would just go in there; people that their names have been written on a special list; people that have money; we are Nigerians shey you get my point; there’s corruption everywhere, they are printing the original for some people, same day same time, and some people they would ask them to come back for it, why?
Some of the respondents who believe that NIMC lacks the capacity, that is; staff and equipment to handle the large number of citizens besieging their offices across the country daily suggest that in the short term, all banks and government agencies in charge of identity management, including the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Nigerian Immigration service should be enlisted to capture all adults, while NIMC should face only school children.
“When they introduced BVN, people go to their banks, there’s no bank you will get to and they say they can do BVN, I’ve been to three banks now before coming here but they said they are not doing, it’s because the government is not following through, had it been they are paying for National ID card, you will see how fast it will be”, “a lot of things are attached to it, I wanted to claim part of my pension fund, they said the NIN is very important if they want to make it work, FRSC and Immigration should be enlisted to quickly register people” they suggested.
The respondents also suggested that in the long term, birth certificate registration centres should be equipped to issue NIN to Nigerians to enable the government to know and keep abreast of population growth and demographic trends.