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The undeserving NIMC Staff 200% pay rise

By Malcolm Emokiniovo Omirhobo
08 October 2021   |   3:03 am
It beats my imagination to see some Nigerians especially Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of communications and digital economy and other principal officers of NIMC


It beats my imagination to see some Nigerians especially Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of communications and digital economy and other principal officers of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) excited and feeling accomplished over President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of 200 % pay rise and enhanced conditions of service for the staff of the NIMC.

This singular act I submit shows the redundancy and lack of sense of direction of the NIMC or else how can one explain this luxury in a country like ours undergoing insecurity, recession and depression.

The NIMC has performed abysmally poor in the collation and data management of our country and as such deserves no pay raise. It has played no role to impact the lives of Nigerians other than to frustrate their lives for nothing.

Imagine, our children cannot sit for exams because of the compulsory registration of the National Identity Number (NIN), within a very short impracticable timeline. 

On December 15, 2020, Pantami, knowing well that the NIMC had not created enough registration centers, no trained staff and had not made provisions for the observance of COVID-19 guidelines and protocols issued a senseless directive compelling over 200 million Nigerians to register and obtain NIN and as well get their SIM cards synchronized with their NIN cards or face disconnection on or before 30/12/2020, within just barely two weeks.

The recklessness of Pantami caused several Nigerians at the risk of their lives to rush to the few registration centers not minding contracting the deadly COVID- 19 to comply with his directives. Naturally, the few registration centers could not cater for the needs of Nigerians. At the time of the announcement, the entire Abuja had just only one registration center. People were going to the very few centers to sleep overnight under excruciating conditions to get numbers for registration but could not meet the commission’s deadline. Since then the Commission has shamelessly extended its deadline more than four times with the last dead of October 30, 2021, and Nigeria is yet to get all Nigerians registered.

Worst still, is the NIMC’s inability, failure, refusal or neglect to ensure that Nigeria’s database is not jeopardized and mismanaged. It is a well-known fact that the Federal Government is pursuing policies encouraging economic refugees from all over Africa to come and settle down in Nigeria by relaxing the procedure and process of their visas. It is also a fact that due to our porous and poorly manned boundary, many illegal aliens from other African countries are now in their millions residing in Nigeria. I stand to be contradicted that due to the poor, lousy and disorganised procedure of the NIMC for the registration of NIN, many of these aliens now have NIN upon which they have been encouraged by the Federal Government of Nigeria to acquire Nigerian citizenship through the back door.

The claim that the NIN will help checkmate crime cannot hold water anymore because the criminals in Nigeria are well known to the Nigerian government who has refused to go after them but have instead choose to go after innocent law-abiding Nigerian citizens. The argument of the NIMC that the syncronisation of SIM cards to NIN will reduce crime is now a big joke as kidnappers and other criminal elements now use the telephone of their victims. So tell me what is much ado about the syncronisation of NIN with our SIM cards if not for the sinister motive of the Nigerian government to violate the fundamental rights of Nigerians and to systematically change the demographics of Nigeria.
It may interest many Nigerians including Pantami to know that the NIMC Act 2007 of Nigeria which requires that every Nigerian citizen must be registered with the NIMC and consequently assigned with NIN was copied from the Great Britain Identity Cards Act of  2006. Funny enough the minister and Nigerians do not know that the Identity Cards Act 2006 Act of Great Britain has been repealed by Great Britain since 2011 and all the National Identity Register (NIR), the equivalent of our NIN cards, discarded and destroyed. Unfortunately and regrettably, Nigeria has not followed suit out of ignorance and sinister motive of some unpatriotic Nigerians who have concluded plans to use the NIN as a tool to embezzle public funds and also to change the demographics of Nigeria.

Nigerians must be wise enough to know that the NIN is not the true representation of the demographics of Nigeria. The NIN is a compromised database that must not and cannot be used for any serious planning or government policy.

The NIMC has not put in place the machinery for screening applicants and the verification of the data submitted by them for registration of NIN. There are no immigration officers to ask questions, no police intelligence report on the applicants, no profiling of the applicants, no verification of address, no verification of letter of approval from local government to ascertain where the applicant comes from. No proper existing data of the National Population Commission and so there is nothing for the NIMC to stand on.

It is my opinion that the pay raise of the staff of the NIMC of 200% by the Federal Government is undeserving, uncalled for and a waste of public funds. I don’t see any reason why the salary scale for a Commission that has failed to perform should be raised to 200 per cent of the total personnel cost thereby unduly and unmeritorious raising the total expenditure of the Commission from about N5.3 billion to N16.7 billion per annum for nothing. 

If you ask me, the raise of pay should have gone to the Nigerian Police, our gallant military men, teachers, doctors and nurses or better still used for social amenities for our senior citizens.
Chief Omirhobo, a lawyer and human rights campaigner wrote from Lagos.