By Emma Okonji
The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), has made its position known about the recent suspension of the registration of National Identity Number (NIN) for candidates of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), insisting that the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), needs to acquire and deploy digital addressing system and enhance its capacity to meet up with the demands of the registration of JAMB candidates.
In order to address identity issues in JAMB registration and curb exam malpractices, JAMB collaborated with NIMC and compelled JAMB candidates to register for NIN as part of the requirements for the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
Oblivious of the large population of JAMB candidates, coupled with NIMC’s limited infrastructure to register the candidates within the stipulated time, the exercise hit the brick-wall, forcing JAMB to suspend the registration exercise.
Disturbed by the situation, which brought untold hardship to JAMB candidates and their parents and guardians who made efforts to register their children and wards under the scorching heat of the sun, the President of ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola, told THISDAY that both JAMB and NIMC underestimated the huge volume of JAMB candidates.
Citing Nigeria’s population of over 200 million people, Teniola said 85 million of the entire population are below 18 years, and that JAMB candidates are between the ages of 16 and 18, where the large number of Nigeria’s population resides.
He, therefore, said it was a miscalculation for both JAMB and NIMC to match the limited infrastructure of NIMC to such huge population, within a short period of time given for JAMB registration.
Teniola, advised that going forward, NIMC, which is saddled with the responsibility of identity management, must acquire sufficient infrastructure and technology in digital addressing system and ensure it builds its capacity to the fullest, to handle the registration of such large volume of JAMB candidates.
“NIMC must work with the National Population Commission to have a good idea of the population of different demographics of Nigerians, as well as with the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), to understand the digital addressing system of the country,” Teniola said.
The Director General of NIMC, Mr. Aliyu Aziz, in his remarks, admitted that the commission lacked the capacity to cope with the upsurge in enrolment in the last few weeks, saying NIMC has only 1,000 centres nationwide while over 4,000 enrolment centres were required for the exercise.
Aziz had said, “The upsurge and demand for NIN within the limited centres and facilities have caused us to review and rethink, for us to consider a shift in the commencement date for the use of NIN as a prerequisite for JAMB examination registration.”
Meanwhile, DIGITAL Economy Media Support Volunteers (DEMS)
has said that JAMB’s decision to suspend the exercise has saved innocent students from stress and falling prey to unforeseen NIN registration racketeers, who may have perfected plans to defraud the candidates, due to the urgency of the situation.
The Director General of DEMS Volunteers, Prince Stan Okenwa, said: “It is commendable that JAMB has not ruled out the mandatory use of NIN for 2021 UMTE registration. Such tactical intervention is a win-win situation for JAMB, NIMC, and the parents/students.”
The Body, however, expressed fears that, NIMC may not be receiving adequate attention from the Federal Government to address the technical, human resource and other issues that the Commission is currently battling with.