By Olusegun Oruame
Nigeria’s citizen-identity manager, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is under attack after the agency, this week, announced via its official Twitter handle: @nimc_ng that Nigerians will pay N3, 000 for renewal of the National Identity Card and N5,000 for replacement of the card if lost.
Angry Nigerians had besieged the agency’s twitter account with complaints wondering if citizenship is now renewable for a fee. Others want the agency to address its internal inefficiency having failed to deliver the identity cards years after millions had duly registered for them.
NIMC’s spokesman, Samson Folarin, while trying to explain the agency’s dilemma said the ID management company was under-funded and lacked the financial capacity to produce the ID cards for millions of applicants.
Since the country flagged off plans for a national digital identity for all citizens over a decade ago, less than 30 million Nigerians have been enrolled in the programme originally designed to provide more accurate statistical data on citizens.
The NIMC’s tweet explained that to renew an expired National ID card or replace a stolen one will require: “a written application with attached proof of payment receipt made through remita, bank teller, NIN slip.”
National ID card vs National Identification Number (NIN)
The tweet failed to explain the difference between a national ID card and the National Identification Number (NIN). Although the agency has tried to further explain its position.
According to NIMC, its main focus is to ensure that all Nigerians are enrolled and issued their NIN. Their NIN is the most important token of their enrollment and they will be issued their cards when funds become available.
NIN is more than your ID card
The NIN is a set of unique 11-numbers issued to individuals/citizens who have registered with the NIMC. The NIMC captures the digital identity of all citizens and issued them the NIN as their unique digital identity. The NIN is issued in a slip which is free. The slip is a lawful means of identification for Nigerians.
The ID card is mere cosmetic and does not bar a citizen from the statutory benefits of the NIN once it has been acquired. You may lose your ID card but you must never lose your NIN – it is your identity number a Nigerian for life.
Know your NIN
The NIN is designed for citizens’ registration as part of government’s national strategy to build database on all citizens for enhanced economic planning. It consists of 11 non- intelligible numbers randomly chosen and assigned to an individual at the completion of enrolment into the National Identity Database (NIDB).
The law mandates NIMC to manage the NIDB in addition to its other primary duties that include to provide and regulate identity management in Nigeria; and to issue National Identification Number (NIN) and ID card to all registrable persons.
In fact, by law, under the NIMC Act No 23 of 2007, all citizens and residents must have the NIN to conduct ID based transactions. All identity (ID) based transactions will soon become permissible only by the use of the NIN.