Shelve NIN as requirement for JAMB registration
If wide reports of the hardship Nigerians are facing to obtain National Identification Number (NIN) are anything to go by, the decision by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to link its examination with the NIN is premature; it can only further complicate an already compounded process of both writing JAMB examination and procuring the NIN. The idea, even though lofty in context, should be suspended until the conditions for obtaining NIN improves.
Saddled with the conduct of admission examination and placement into tertiary institutions in Nigeria, JAMB has made possession of National Identification Number (NIN) a precondition for candidates who wish to register for its examination in 2021. This requirement is an unnecessary additional burden on these young minds desirous of getting into higher institutions in Nigeria and should be shelved.
Registrar of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, has said the board introduced the use of National Identity Number (NIN) for the registration of the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to checkmate examination malpractices.
Oloyede, who spoke in Abuja during a virtual meeting with owners of Computer Based Test Centres, service providers and other stakeholders to kickstart the 2021 UTME registration had also warned that no CBT is allowed to register candidates for NIN, adding that any centre found to engage in such act would be sanctioned.
Oloyede explained that the directive for the use of NIN as a prerequisite for registration was from the Minister of Education, saying the motive was also for security reasons.
It is worth recalling that JAMB had attempted to start the implementation of this burdensome NIN requirement in its 2020 call but had to postpone it owing to technical hitches. From all indications, these hitches are yet to be overcome given the tortuous process of obtaining NIN from the agency in charge of the issuance, the National Identity Management Company (NIMC). In spite of the attempt by NIMC to decentralise some of the processes, the long queues at the centres are a testimony to the fact that a seamless process is not yet in place and hence will compound the stress of registration.
In 2020, more than two million candidates registered for JAMB examinations and there is no reason to expect a lower number in 2021. Majority of these candidates are just attaining the age when they can obtain the NIN. The implication of this is that a larger chunk of the candidates would need to go through the stress within the deadline set by JAMB. This is a needless stress.
In giving the directive to make NIN a condition for registration, the supervising ministry, the Federal Ministry of Education and Minister, Adamu Adamu had ordered JAMB to liaise with NIMC to actualise the policy.
On the surface, the NIN link would seem unexceptionable and a way to get more Nigerians to get registered but that can only be when all logistics are put in place for a painless process. Nigerians have watched for years the bumbling of the registration process and the needless pain in the registration process. Allegations of extortion of desperate registrants are rife and so are crass displays of incompetence by officials in charge of registration.
To extend these pains to young impressionable minds does not present the country in bright lights. Worse still, so many of these candidates may not be able to meet the deadline to obtain their NIN and register for JAMB. This will amount to a needless abridgement of their right to education.
Driving traffic to NIN registration centres in this period of COVID-19 pandemic is a disservice to the protocols put in place by those in charge of managing the pandemic hence policies that will encourage the gatherings of large crowds ought to be discouraged at this time. JAMB should look for other means of tackling malpractices for now and concentrate on its core mandate. That core mandate is to ensure a stress-free process of organising examination into higher institutions for the burgeoning youth population.
One major requirement before enforcing compulsory NIN registration for Nigerians is a further decentralisation of the registration process. For example, the process should be so decentralised that students should be able to obtain their NIN right on their school premises. Until and unless the country gets to that point, making NIN compulsory for registration should be jettisoned. The board (JAMB) has enough logistic problems to contend with for now. Adding further complications will detract from its achievements and the efforts of its hard-working Registrar.
The experience of linking NIN to SIM cards has shown that those saddled with the process are unprepared for the task. This can be seen in extensions of deadlines, litigations and the chaos at the centres. JAMB should not join the fray by adding its over two million prospective applicants to the list. The wise thing to do in the present circumstance is to shelve this requirement until there is a seamless process of obtaining the national identity number.