BY Adam A. Abatcha
The introduction of the National Identity Card as one of sacred national documents is a welcome development for many reasons. First, for its usefulness if the data collected from the public are properly stored and shared among our national institutions, for the purposes of planning, development and security.
National Identity Card is a life project that the nation cannot afford to treat with laxity. However, the pace of its processing is so appalling because it takes two years or more for applicants to get their cards. The public are well educated about its importance but they are disappointed in the delay of its production and delivery.
It is free to apply which is only meant for Nigerians to do so. I found the staff members of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) at the Centres I have visited like Wuse and Nigeria Immigration Service Headquarters Sauka very friendly, helpful and dedicated. But, as someone who dislikes giving money for the service rendered to him by government officials, I find it disturbing asking applicants for tips whether in cash or kind. I voluntarily assisted lots of illiterate applicants to fill in their application forms and accompanied them to the Centre for interpreting questions the NIMC officials want to clarify.
I advice that the authorities concerned should see to the welfare of the officials of NIMC in such Centres as well as ameliorate the working condition of the staff members in remote areas.
As no cogent reason was offered at the time of writing this article to the public by any of the NIMC officials or the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the challenges the former faced, I call on the latter to kindly inquire about the delay for the issuance of the National Identity Card to applicants. If the NIMC is not properly funded or lacks facilities such as staff and equipment in handling huge applications at hand or administrative bottlenecks are some of the problems, the Minister as matter of urgency needs to intervene. Thanks to Latifat Opoola’s article published in Daily Trust newspaper on Saturday, March 11, 2017 where views of the management and pubic were expressed indicating that it is funding problem that is the main issue in prompt issuance of the national ID card. Therefore, the Minister of Internal Affairs is expected to highlight this matter to the presidency as soon as possible or effectively improvise sources of funding this scheme. Applicants cannot wait to receive their new National IDs.
I also wish to seize this opportunity to suggest that the data collected from this exercise be shared with Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, Central Bank, Ministry of Budget and Planning and Nigeria Police Force etc. for individual data unification. I also suggest that the government should harmonise such sacred national documents especially the Voter’s Card and National Identity Card in a manner in which the National Identity Card should serve the purpose of identification during voting and other related matters.
The rationale behind such harmonisation of data is to reduce government expenditure through unnecessary duplication of cards (i.e., National Identity can serve the purpose of voter’s card) if both institutions handling these documents work closely together.
A harmonised personal Identification number that each person needs to have can serve the purposes of national identification, social security, revenue generation, as well as determining our population for statistic, national planning and development.
– Abatcha wrote in from Abuja