The declaration of September 16 every year as the National Identity Day might have come as an answered prayer to quenching the parched soul of millions of Nigerians after the heartrending toil experienced during the National ID card registration process.
Recently, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha conveyed the federal government’s approval and Nigeria observance of September 16 of every year as National Identity Day.
According to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the resolution is a practical move to create awareness on the importance of identification as a modern tool for national development and social cohesion.
“The purpose of International Identity Day is to raise awareness about the important role identity plays in empowering individuals to exercise their rights and responsibilities fairly and equitably in a modern society.
“The choice of the date, 16 September, was in recognition of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.9 which calls for legal identity for all including birth registration by 2030.”
The commission added: “And we are delighted that Nigeria has become the first country in the world to declare September 16 as ID Day, thereby leading the rest of the world in this important direction.”
Worthy of mentioning is that 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 confirming the identity of individuals residing in a country.
Upon completion of registration, a transaction slip known as the National Identification Number Slip (“NIN Slip”) is first issued to a registered person pending release of the National Identity Card. The NIN Slip serves as evidence of registration and bears the unique NIN of the registered person.
The commission disclosed it has enrolled over 11 million unique data into the National Identity Database.
After the important 11-digit NIN has been obtained by an individual, a card comes next as an additional token. The National Electronic Identity Card (e-ID card) is a chip based card with multiple functions. As mentioned earlier, the card is a token given upon successful enrolment or registration into the National Identity System.
Unlike the National Identification Number (NIN) which is assignable to all Nigerians and Legal Residents without any age restrictions, the National e-ID Card can only be issued to Nigerians registered into the National Identity System and Legal Residents who have attained the age of 16 years and above, according to the Director-General/CEO of the Commission, Mr Aliyu Aziz.
The NIMC boss said the e-ID card can be used for identification, payment and other applications in Nigeria.
According to him, the e-ID card will integrate existing identity database into government institutions and enable everyone to also receive a multipurpose ID card.
“It is important to note that the 11-digit National Identification Number (NIN) is not the same thing as the National e-ID Card which is a physical token.
“The number printed on the e-ID card is not the NIN but the PAN (Primary Account Number) used for accessing the card’s payment feature once activated”, Aziz noted.
However, the NIMC Director in Ekiti State, Mr. Gbenga Ifayefinmi has disclosed that with the executive order signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, no Nigerian will now get international passport without the national identity card
Ifayefunmi revealed that it has lots of features and will be useful for the holder in accessing many benefits.
“It comes with many advantages because you will be asked to come with your national ID card before you can assess government facilities.
“It has unique numbers, social security numbers and can be used for healthcare and education, among others”, he said.
But, what comes to mind is what is NIMC saying on the issuance of the National e-ID cards and how valid is the NIN Slip?
Business Remarks gathered that with Nigeria population closing up to 201 million, NIMC said it has printed about one million National e-ID Cards and issued over 400,000 which members of the public confessed not getting.
This development did not go down well with lots of Nigerians.
As a result, many Nigerians are not pleased with NIMC prolonged silence on the matter of card issuance and some have taken to their social media pages to express their grievance.
According to Peter Johnson,“I have registered since October 2014, till date have not been issued any card and I keep checking on my status as instructed by NIMC”.
Another named Yakubu Umar said, “Corruptions begin with NIMC because after four years of registration, you can not provide our national identity card”.
In a report, a security expert, Dr. Usman Magaji stated that, “Nigerians deserve to know why NIMC have not been able to resolve its differences with Chams Group regarding the printing and issuance of National Identity Card.
“NIN to many Nigerians has no physical value except for official purposes but the critical issue that comes to mind whenever national identity of someone is on the table is the card and nobody can boost of having received one.
“Some of us saw when some top government officials were given their own and they flashed it on the TV, but when you go for you own, they will only printout a cheap document and give you instead of a real national ID which will clearly identify you wherever you go. That is the true essence of a National ID programme,” Dr Magaji averred.
In the same vein, a business operator in Lagos, who pleaded anonymity queried why Nigerians should be scammed by NIMC into believing that NIN should substitute an ID Card in this present generation of digital intelligence.
Another Nigerian, Mrs Adunni Omorounke decried NIMC projections so far.
In her words,“Is NIMC not contradicting itself. We were once told the production of the unique NIN is sufficient identification of an individual for the purposes of any transaction and as such the NIN Slip issued in lieu of the National Identity Card is a valid photo identification.
“Now, I heard Buhari has said no international passport without national ID card. Where is the Card? Has NIMC given any? Has anyone collected it. Let them just be deceiving themselves on card issuance”, Omorounke lamented.
It has to be remembered that NIMC DG has earlier announced that payment for issuance of e-National Identity Card would begin in 2022.