ONE of the most frustrating attributes of the public service in Nigeria is the typical perfunctory attitude of officers to their jobs and lack of regard to the very members of the public they are employed to serve. This has again reared its head in the touted intention of the Federal Government to start implementing the mandatory use of the National Identification Number, NIN, as from January 1, 2019, less than 60 days away.
Back on September 12, 2018, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, had approved “the strategic roadmap for Digital Identity Ecosystem” which, according to the Director General/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, Mr. Aliyu Aziz, would bring into full force the implementation of the NIMC Act 23 of 2007 as from January 1, 2019.
The Act spells out the powers, functions and sanctions connected with the implementation of the National ID scheme by the NIMC. Of particular interest to the public are items 4 and 11 of the offences and penalties under the Act. Item 4 specifies that failure to register for the National Identification Number by eligible persons (all Nigerian citizens) would attract imprisonment for not less than six months or a fine of N100,000. Item 11 provides that the registration of wrong persons (foreigners) by card collection and activation officers will attract the same penalty.
The Federal Government appears keen to quickly get the NIN scheme to play its role in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP. It will enable government to meet the critical needs of the citizenry in the areas of food security, energy, transportation, human capital development and in developing the local digital economy.
Queerly enough, both the Federal Government and the NIMC have since gone mute after the September declarations. Apart from the recently-concluded flurry of identity registration exercises by the NIMC, there is very little in the public domain to show that January 1, 2019 is the “D” Day for the mandatory enforcement of the NIN.
A massive media activity ought to have been mounted to enable the citizenry prepare. It is appalling that the people are not being informed of the danger that awaits those who cannot provide their authentic NIN in the next two months. The NIMC has not even proved that it has been able to cover enough of the population to begin talking about a mandatory implementation that could putatively send millions of Nigerians to prison or get them fined.
Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that seem unable to implement a credible National ID Card scheme to help it chart its development through the competent management of its population and human resources.
The Federal Government and the NIMC should get more serious!