NIMC and the Corrupt Process of Obtaining a National Identity Number: Need to Reform Commission

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NIMC and the Corrupt Process of Obtaining a National Identity Number: Need to Reform Commission
Nwolu Obiajulu

In 2017, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) was established by the NIMC Act No. 23 with the mandate to establish, own, operate, maintain and manage the National Identity Database in Nigeria. The commission was tasked with the responsibility of registering persons covered by the Act, assign a unique National Identity Number (NIN) and issue General Multi-Purpose Cards (GMPC) to those captured

The commission headed by Aliyu Aziz issues National e-ID card, verifies identity as well as harmonize and authenticates data. While the NIN can be assigned to every Nigerian and legal residents without age limitations, the National e-ID card can only be given to Nigerians and legal residents registered in the database who are 16 and above.

For a commission that plays such a critical role in national development, a lot is desired from the agency. Just like most government and private sector businesses, NIMC has had a fair share of the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This development has forced it to shut down some of its offices in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. This has made the process of registering for the NIN more difficult than usual.

A visit to NIMC headquarters at Wuse Zone 5, will expose one to a mammoth crowd waiting to be enrolled in the database.  The delay caused by the long queues is worsened by constant network glitches faced during capturing. Given the relevance of the NIN and the far-reaching use of the Electronic Identity Information (e-ID) which the commission issues to Nigerians, it is not hard to fathom why a lot of Nigerians seek to enroll and acquire the e-ID card.

However, the crowd at the NIMC headquarters which can be attributed to closure of some of its branches in the FCT has forced people to seek alternative. One of the few alternatives is the commission’s office at Zone 3, Wuse. The office complex which NIMC shares with the Federal Character Commission (FCC) set up to provide succor to people who are unable to access the service at the headquarters seem to be doing little to help the situation

The office has proven itself to be an avenue for corrupt practices and unethical behaviour by staff of the commission. A visit to the office on a typical day would expose one to a huge number of people seeking to enroll. For one to be considered to gain entrance into the capturing hall, security personnel stationed at the entrance have to be tipped. Often times, defiant citizens who fail to comply are either denied access or forced to wait for extended hours.

People who are willing to offer tips are given expedited service while non-compliant citizens are made to wait in queue and sometimes made to return on a later date, citing network glitch as challenge. This has made the process more tedious for the ordinary citizen to be enrolled in the database.

Added to the challenge of evident corruption in the processing of getting enrolled in the database is the delay of the commission in issuing e-ID cards to qualified citizens who have been captured. Most times, people have to wait for ages before being issued the original cards. Individuals captured are usually issued paper bearing their NIN, which ought to be temporary.

These challenges are defeating the rationale behind establishing such a commission that has the capacity to unify Nigerian database. As a country that is yet to adopt a unified system of database for its citizens, the filling of loopholes in the NIMC should be prioritised and addressed for the growth of the commission. Nigerians should not be made to pass through such stress or left at the mercy of corrupt civil servants who are been paid to carry out a mandate.

The e-ID card doesn’t just have the capacity to be used for financial transactions but could be used for travel purposes. As a result, registration and collection centres should be increased not just in the FCT but across the federation. The commission should equally engage in sensitization to inform the masses of the usefulness of the NIN as well as make the process less strenuous.

With multiplication of database in Nigeria such as the voters’ card, International passport and Bank Verification Number (BVN), it has become imperative that Nigeria adopt a unified identification database. NIMC if well positioned could serve the purpose. It is unexpected that civil servants who are on the payroll of the government should exploit the masses for selfish interest.

The management of the NIMC should take urgent steps at repositioning and setting it on a path of development. NIMC if effectively managed hold a massive potential for the growth of Nigeria. Being an alternative means of identification to international passport which costs a fortune to procure, it is necessary that NIMC would critically look at its organization and redress.

 

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