Following reports of extortion and sharp practices at some of the enrolment centres of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the Federal Government last week suspended some workers allegedly involved.
Before then, there were reports in the media indicating that the ongoing National identification Number (NIN) enrolment exercise was not going on as smoothly as envisaged at the NIMC centres.
- 10 solid reasons why budget 2021 should be scrapped (II)
- Security operatives rescue 77 kidnap victims in Katsina
There are accounts of officials not arriving on time at the designated centres as well as shortage or in some cases lack of necessary registration materials for the exercise.
This is in addition to the usual problems of power outage as well as the fact that the centres are not enough to cope with the multitudes that need to be registered all over the country.
Expectedly, this results in frustration and disappointment for the multitudes waiting to enrol leading to chaotic scenes at the centres.
Against the assurances given by the authorities that adequate arrangements have been made to ensure the exercise goes as smoothly as possible, this is hardly encouraging.
The government cannot escape responsibility over this unsavoury situation.
First of all, the timing of the exercise coming at the yuletide when movement of people across the country is at its peak was hardly convenient.
And to further compound matters, the government, without proper consultation and consideration of the circumstances, initially gave a two weeks’ deadline for the conclusion of the exercise before extending it by another two weeks after much protests from stakeholders.
Secondly, there was no adequate enlightenment for an exercise of such national importance and magnitude.
Such necessary information as location of the enrolment centres, procedures for enrolment, and requirements were not properly communicated to the public prior to the commencement of the exercise.
Thirdly, not much consideration was also given to rural dwellers and those that live in remote and inaccessible parts of the country, who also need to be involved in the exercise.
We observe that before the present time, National Identity enrolment exercise has been going on continuously for quite some time now at designated centres of the NIMC where Nigerians do it at their own time and convenience.
For the most part, reports about the process have not been as we have it with the present exercise.
The observable lapses in the ongoing enrolment can no doubt be attributable, to a large extent, to the sudden announcement of a two weeks’ deadline for an exercise which Nigerians have been doing conveniently without deadlines.
The resulting rush and panic to beat the deadline for enrolment would naturally result in chaos and disorder especially if as we have seen, adequate arrangements have not been made to cope with the situation.
And in such circumstances there will always be people who will seek to take advantage.
All things considered, we believe the observable lapses in the on-going exercise call for government to consider taking some measures in order to ease the situation.
There should be greater synergy between the Ministry of Communication and Digital Technology and the various telecom service providers in accessing and processing of data for capture into the database.
There should also be effective supervision to ensure that those charged with the responsibility of conducting the exercise do so in accordance with the guidelines provided.
Incidences of sharp practices such as those discovered and reported should be promptly dealt with to serve as deterrence to those who might be minded to take advantage of the situation.
The government should also consider extending the time for the exercise as it is clear that with the cumulative issues, the current deadline is not feasible.