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National ID : Slow pace of delivery worries Lagos residents

By Gbenga Salau
16 December 2018   |   3:28 am
Years after many began the process of obtaining the new General Multi-Purpose Cards (GMPC) better known as the national identity cards, they are yet to be issued the identification cards by the National Identity Management Commission .....

• Next Three To Five Years Attention On National Identification Number Not National e-ID Card- NIMC

Years after many began the process of obtaining the new General Multi-Purpose Cards (GMPC) better known as the national identity cards, they are yet to be issued the identification cards by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which is administering the exercise, despite fulfilling all requirements.

In fact, some of those who have supplied all required personal details, and got their images captured are upset that four years after they completed the process, they are still yet to be issued the cards owing to what they described as the sloppy, haphazard manner, which the agency goes about the exercise.

This is not the first time that the country is attempting to avail the citizenry a uniformed identity card. Before the birth of NIMC, there was a Department of National Civic Registration (DNCR), which collated the data of Nigerians for about two weeks in 2003 for the purpose of producing a national identity card.

That ID scheme executed by DNCR allegedly gulped over N25b with some 36 million Nigerians registered out of a population in excess of 150 million then. It was also said that more than 14 million ID cards were voided by the DNCR because of inaccurate data before the DNCR itself was scrapped and gave way for the NIMC in 2007.

The NIMC was established by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007, with the mandate to establish, own, operate, maintain and manage the country’s National Identity Database, register persons covered by the Act, assign a unique National Identification Number (NIN), and issue GMPC to those who are citizens of the country, as well as, others legally residing within the country. Kamaru Adeyemi, is one of those pained by the snail speed of the exercise.

According to Adeyemi, his data was captured on January 16, 2014, but as at last October that he checked on the agency, his identity card was not ready for collection.

Adeyemi, told The Guardian at the Ikeja office of the NIMC that his sense of frustration was heightened when he stopped by to inquire about what stage the production of his card was, only to find out that a colleague whose data was captured in October 2014 (10 months after his), recently got her permanent identity card.

All the same, he left the office dejected as officials failed to provide a timeframe within which his identity card would be ready for collection. Even though Ogochukwu Abraham applied/registered for the identification card about three years ago, she too is yet to receive hers.

According to her, she has not bothered to find out if the card was ready because during registration, she was informed that when the permanent card is ready, she would be alerted through a text message.

Mr. Emma Egwurube’s data were captured at the Ikeja NIMC office, in January 2014, but up till this moment, he is yet to take delivery of his permanent identity card; his friend, a staff member of Avom Health Management Organisation, who registered in 2015 at the agency’s Yaba office only recently got his permanent identity card.

While Egwurube is unhappy with his inability to secure his identity card despite several visits to NIMC, Olamide Bakare, who also got registered in 2014 does not want to find himself in that condition, hence his refusal to visit NIMC for inquiries, preferring to wait for the alert, which he was promised.

However, Marilyn Ogwi considers herself lucky, as she only recently walked in to the NIMC office to pick up her identity card, having had her data captured way back in 2012. An excited Ogwi said she was glad to hear that her card was ready during a routine check at the office, even though she never got any text message alert, which the agency promised.

She, however commended the NIMC for decentralising the data capturing process saying when she registered in 2012, she had to come all the way from Alakuko, where she was staying to Ikeja, the only point for physical data capturing then.

“Now, it is easier. When I came here then, the whole place was rowdy, which is not the case now. I guess it is due to the decentralisation of the process,” she said. When The Guardian visited the Ikeja office of NIMC, it was devoid of the crowd and rowdy atmosphere that characterised it during a similar visit five years ago.

Security guards at the entrance were more courteous and polite in attending to registrants, and those seeking updates on the status of their permanent cards. The calm atmosphere owes a lot to the fact that registration and data capturing are now being done a local councils.

When this reporter informed the Head, Corporate Communications, NIMC, Mr. Loveday Chika Ogbonna that he underwent the registration exercise in 2013, and was yet to get his permanent identity card, a development, which resonated with the experiences of many others The Guardian spoke to, Ogbonna said, as much as possible, card production is done on first in, first serve basis, even though there were rare situations where cards are randomly selected and printed.

“But like we have always said, the focus of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for the next three to five years is on the National Identification Number and not on the National e-ID Card. “We want to make the NIN understandable, acceptable, applicable and appreciated by Nigerians and legal residents, as an important and intrinsic aspect of their entire life, rather than the physical card, which can be discarded while the number is for life.”

According to him, before now, the agency focused on the card, but after the country went into recession in 2015, it decided to emulate other developed countries like the United States, which issues Social Security Number; the United Kingdom, with the National Insurance Number; and India where they recently enrolled about 1.4 billion people, and issued them the Aadhaar.

“In all these cases, the emphasis – or perhaps I should say the only thing in focus – is the number. However, this does not mean that we don’t issue the cards, because it is there in our NIMC Act that we should issue a general multipurpose card to all registered individuals. Therefore, we recently gazetted some regulations that will ensure participation of private partners in the card personalisation services in order to handle the printing of the outstanding cards.

“Also, with the recent approval of the Digital Identity Ecosystem by the Federal Executive Council, a framework that leverages on the existing capabilities and infrastructure of distinct government agencies and private sector organisations to carry out enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB), as well as, issuance of digital identity, known as the NIN, our intention is to give Nigeria a credible and robust identity management system.”He noted that FEC approval of the identity ecosystem will bring into full force, the implementation of the provisions of the NIMC Act, which include the enforcement of the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN) by January 1, 2019, and the application of appropriate sanctions and penalties on defaulters as provided under Section 28 of the NIMC Act and Regulations.

He added that though the agency has since started the capture and issuance of the NIN to children of all ages, it is mandatory for the parents or guardians of a minor to have enrolled for the NIN before presenting their wards for enrolment, this is because the system essentially links the NIN of the minor to that of his/her parent or guardian until the minor attains the 16 years mark.

“Upon attaining the age of 16, he/she would be required to visit any of the NIMC enrolment centres nationwide to update his/her registration. It is at this stage that the national e-ID Card will be processed and subsequently issued to such individual as prescribed in the NIMC Act.”He maintained that enrolment is absolutely free and double enrolment into the National Identity Database (NIDB) for the NIN is a crime and a punishable offence if caught.