There hasn’t be a project that showed Nigeria’s incompetence as consistently as the National Idenitification Number Scheme (NIN) . Chaired by the National Identity Managament Commission (NIMC), which to many is yet another pointless government agency, the National Identification Number scheme has been in effect since the early 2000’s and has failed in all this time to either capture the data of a vast majority of Nigerians or at least offer the people who have bothered to get their NIN’s any benefits from owning the number. So far, registering your phone number with your mobile service provider or obtaining your BVN from your bank of choice has proven far more beneficial to the average Nigerian than the NIN.
That isn’t to say that the government has given up on the scheme. There have been tours to register primary school students at their schools and NIN registration centres have been opened at most local governments. There is however, no real benefit on the part of citizens to brave government officials unless it is made compulsory. So the government has taken to ‘encouraging’ citizens to register for a NIN by insisting that Nigerians can only access certain other national services by registering for or owning a NIN. First, it was implemented that the only way to obtain a Nigerian/Ecowas passport was to register for a NIN, and use that NIN to access the passport database. Now this is a plan that could have worked if not that the vast majority of Nigerians live in extreme poverty and cannot afford the 30 – 45,ooo naira fee bracket that one must pay to obtain a passport. So far it has not gained the kind of success the government hoped for.
That’s why it it is taking things a step further and instituting that from 2019, students who want to register for the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board exam (JAMB), the premiere exam for students looking to enter university must own a national identity number. Acting-Director-General of NIMC, Hadiza Dagabana feels that using the NIN to register for JAMB will reduce exam malpractice through impersonation and will help the government connect a person’s qualifications and achievements to their identity number.
This is good in theory, but how will the government implement, if it has been unable to convince people to register for nearly 15 plus years. Will enforcing work if the government doesn’t remove all the roadblocks to ease of registration?