NIMC And The Crisis of Identity

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The new National ID Card registration process has been ongoing for quite a long time. The registration has also been made mandatory. However, there are several problems that are currently hindering the smooth flow of the registration process.

One of such problems is the delay and unnecessary stress that individuals experience from day-to-day in their attempts to register for the ID card.

First, when a person arrives at the office of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), located in his or her Local Government Council Secretariat, where the registration process is usually carried out, there is often a crowd of people around the premises of the registration centre. Then if one manages to gain access to any of the NIMC’s officials and inquires about the requirements for registering for the new ID card, he is usually asked to go to a nearby business centre to get the registration form, or to visit a cyber cafe and download and print the registration/enrolment form from the NIMC’s website, fill the form, and bring back to the registration centre, usually on a specified date.

Regarding this practice, some questions arise: Is the NIMC registration centre ordinarily not supposed to be responsible for issuing the hard copy of the enrolment forms free-of-charge to those wishing to register for the new national ID card? Must those wishing to register have to go to a business centre or a cyber cafe to get the enrolment form, at their own expense? All these contribute to the stress and expense encountered by those seeking to register for the new national ID card.

Then, on returning to the registration centre with the completed forms and other necessary documentation, one is asked to queue up, usually among a crowd of people who have come for the same registration process. And usually, not everyone who spends precious time waiting on the queue is attended to eventually! People, including the elderly, can spend several hours waiting for their turn, or can even spend the whole day at the NIMC registration centre.

It has also been observed that Bank Verification Number (BVN) is usually requested when submitting your enrolment form. What about the people who do not have a bank account? Will they be automatically denied the opportunity of registering simply because they do not have or operate a bank account, and therefore have no Bank Verification Number (BVN)? There have been stories of people who have been turned back, refused to be attended to, because they did not have a BVN. All of these make the process of registration difficult, stressful and frustrating!
Also, in this period of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people are being exposed to unnecessary health risks as they attempt to register for the ID card, especially with the crowd that is almost always found around the registration centres. It is usually difficulty maintaining social distancing.

At times also, the registration centres experience some problems, such as electric power outage, problems with their generating sets, and even problems with their computer networks which sometimes make it difficult for them to access the data associated with BVN numbers. When these problems arise, it only adds to the stress and frustrations of the people who have come for the registration process! Some, after they have waited on the queue, standing for several hours, are even later asked to go back home, with nothing accomplished. These include even the elderly, who also have to stand on queues for long periods of time. Hours that should have been better utilized on more productive engagements have been wasted at the registration centres, and this may even have occurred on several days/occasions.

In view of all the problems, challenges and frustrations currently being experienced in the process of registration, the concerned authorities should kindly look into these issues, and make necessary inputs/adjustments, such as increasing the number of registration centres in order to ease the stress and suffering currently being experienced by the masses.

Daniel Ighakpe,danny.ighakpe@gmail.com