The announcement by the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, last week Tuesday, October 15, 2019 that Nigerians seeking to replace their lost National ID Cards or “renew” existing ones are to pay fees has left concerned citizens wondering what the real intention of the Commission is with regard to the National ID Card scheme.
Does the NIMC really want to register as many Nigerian citizens as possible (which is its core mandate) or has the scheme become just another avenue for generating revenue? What then is the relevance of a Commission which vicariously seeks to keep out the poorest among us from possessing the National ID Card?
Information on the Twitter handle of the NIMC quotes the Commission as charging N5,000 for replacement of lost National ID, while card “renewal” is N3,000, all payable through Remita.
NIMC makes it clear that the most important thing is for every citizen to register and have their National Identity Number, NIN. The impression is being given that if you have the NIN you do not need the card unless you can afford to pay for it. This impression is probably behind the failure of the NIMC to promptly issue the National ID Card to millions of Nigerians who registered and were issued their NINs years ago.
This is a totally objectionable attitude by a Commission charged with managing our national identity policy. In a country where there is no unified central database, having the NIN without the ID Card itself might hamper citizens’ eligibility where the National ID Card is required.
This is why every identity collection system that requires personal data capture – Nigerian Passport, Driver’s Licence, the INEC Voter’s Card, ATM Card and Bank Verification Number, BVN – is quickly backed up with cards. If there is any national identity system that must back up citizen registration without fail, it is the National ID Card, the ultimate, all-purpose and compulsory form of citizen identification.
Even if Nigerians are to renew any other form of identification, the National ID Card should never be subject to renewal, especially if failure to renew can hamper citizens in any way.
NIMC’s failure to establish a national identity database is shameful and unacceptable. This fee demand for “renewal” and replacement of lost National ID Card is an attempt to extort the citizens. It adds further to the pile-up of taxes, fees and levies that this administration is imposing on hapless citizens.
It is capable of robbing over 100 million extremely poor Nigerians of their right to possess their country’s ID Card. NIMC is not and should not be a revenue generating Federal agency. Like the INEC, it must provide the National ID Card to all citizens free of charge.
These charges must be dropped.