Long Queues, Fruitless Efforts Mar National Identity Card Registration In Lagos

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Among the many problems facing Nigeria today, the issue of identity remains one very huge problem that many Nigerians are not very keen to acknowledge as a problem, and which the importance still remains vague to a lot of Nigerians.

I’m not about to touch on the importance of having a form of identification as a Nigerian as that will be a topic for another day, however, having a form of identification not only benefits one as a citizen, it also shows a certain level of responsibility and accountability to Nigeria as a country.

An effective national identity management system is critical to the development of any economy. It provides a universal identification infrastructure for a country that enables access and means to confirm the identity of individuals residing in that country. Thus, proper economic planning, adequate intelligence gathering and a functioning internal and external security architecture will be difficult to achieve in the absence of a working national identity system.

In Nigeria, as highlighted in the NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) Act of 2007, the national identification number (NIN) is mandatory for most transactions in Nigeria. Every citizen and legal resident is expected to enrol and obtain his or hers, however, many Nigerians are either oblivious to the importance or are generally uninterested to obtain theirs.

The desire to address the lack of interest on part of Nigerians,  and what federal government has done prompted Information Nigeria reporter, Michael Isaac to walk through the system.

A visit to Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area at Ikotun-Egbe, I met a number of people who were ready to share their experience on the whole process as well as other personnel who shared in details how much input the government has set in place to ensure that Nigerians enrol for their NIN.

Mr. Badejo shared how much easy it was for him to get his NIN as he had just concluded the process.

“I am very happy that I have completed this thing because I have been coming here for two days now. Even though this is not the final stage, at least it is something.

“And what is the final stage?” I asked.

“I have to go to Alausa after three days to get the permanent one. This one is only temporary,” he replied excitedly.

National Identity management commission
Many Nigerians are oblivious to the importance of having a form of identification

Mr. Badejo was among the many that also hinted that the process was seamless for them.

“So at what point did you see the importance of getting a National ID card and did you pay for this?’ I continued.

“I don’t know, sir, I just thought it was necessary and it is now that I have the time, that’s why I did it and I only paid fifty Naira.”

His response proves the point that a lot of Nigerians have little or no idea of the importance of having a National Identity Number.

Speaking to one of the personnel, the government have also provided easy ways to go about the enrolment, registration and collection of the IDs

Mrs Adebimpe sheds light into that detail.

“It is actually easy now for anyone to get their NIN, the NIMC has partnered with many smaller outlets to make registration easier. So for someone with a busy schedule, you can actually pre-enrol online, print out the form and go to any of our stations to complete the rest of the process.”

“I hear now that some banks also push for it and you can get it all done at the bank and head straight to Alausa to collect the card”

Asked her why a lot of Nigerians seem uninterested about getting their NIM, Adebimpe said, “The thing with us Nigerians is that, there are laws but these laws are not followed duly and that’s why many people act like this is unimportant, however, the NIMC on her own part is poor, in the sense that there are no adequate amount of publicity on what we are trying to achieve here.” She concluded.

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Another visit to the Yaba Local Council Development Area at Adekunle Yaba, I met with a couple of people, young and old as they queued up at the NIMC office waiting to be attended to. Speaking to a few of them, they expressed that the process has not been entirely easy as they have been there on the queue all morning and it was only 11 am.

A man identified as Joseph, however, walked me through the process – “It really has not been easy as most of the people here have been here since morning and the funny thing is that it is only one system that they are using to work.”

“I got here as early as 7 AM and look, it’s past 11 AM”.

“They have only one system here and the crowd is much and at this point, they are asking newcomers to go and return tomorrow.”

I asked him at what point he felt the necessity to have a national identification and he expressed that it is because he wanted to apply for a loan in a bank.

Speaking a youth identified as Martha, she hinted that she had done the pre-enrolment at UBA Bank and was only there for confirmation.

“So I recently created a UBA account and having no means of identification they gave me a NIMC form which I filled and they took my biometrics and assigned me a number. So I came here to confirm and they’ve asked me to go to Alausa in three days”

For Martha, it was as easy as that, but she wouldn’t have cared enough to enrol if she didn’t go out to create an account with UBA.

As part of the NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) Act of 2007, to document Nigerian citizens and legal residents in the country, it seems that a lot of Nigerians have little or no idea about what this is all about and it seems also that the NIMC are poorly equipped to carry out this process to its full effect.

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