National Identity Management Commission roles out guidelines for registration of under-16 children in Nigeria.

By Bruno Uche

The National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, says it is poised to capture more children of under-16 in its on-going nationwide exercise in Nigeria. The Commission said the tempo will increase in due course as many children have not been captured in their data base since the exercise started. Children of under-age will however not be givenNational e-card until they turn 16, according to the Federal Government agency. 

More details of the guideline for registration of children were unfolded by Mr. Loveday Chika, Head of Corporate Communications, NIMC, in an exclusive interview with Verbatim two weeks ago. Chika stated that for a child to be enrolled, one of the parents has to be enrolled first because the Commission wants to tie the family history of that child to the parents. He also stated that a child enrolled cannot be issued National e-card until he/she turns 16, pointing out that the act establishing the Commission mandates them to enrol every Nigerian and legal residents.

Giving greater insight on how the registration process works, Chika said: “There are two tokens we issue out in National Identity Management Commission; the first token is the National Identification Number, NIN, which is very vital and important. After that we issue to you the General multi-purpose card which is called the National e-card, but that card is not given to those under the age of 16, that’s according to our act. So children can enroll but either of the parents will enroll first or in the absence of that, a legal guardian can represent. The whole idea is to capture everybody in the database so that we’ll be able to track anybody at any point in time”.

He decried the low turnout of children in the country, and  blamed it on minimal awareness campaign. He enjoined Nigerians to bring their children for enrolment.“The turnout is not quite impressive but we are getting there. Very soon we will make the usage of NIN mandatory and then a lot of people will have no option than to come and enroll, because by the time you discover that you cannot enroll in any government school or even a private school without the NIN, or even a government services or any other social benefits without the NIN, both the parents and the children will come and enroll. For now we have captured about 200, 000 children but generally, we have captured over 31 million Nigerians and we are still urging Nigerians to come and enroll and we also appeal to the Media to assist in our campaign”, he told Verbatim in the interview.

Speaking further on  the National ID card project , Chika  harped on the need to get many people enroll first and urge people to de-emphasize on card and focus on the enrolment. “In as much as card is important, you will only give card to those who have registered.We want to get many people into the database as possible. We want to focus on registration which is very vital. Very soon there’s going to be the ecosystem approach whereby government agencies and other agencies that are into biometrics and data collection will have to enroll people and send the information to our back-end and we will provide the person with NIN. The law permits us to register every Nigerian and legal residents and issue NIN to them and at same time the multipurpose card after enrollment but for now, we are trying to focus more on the enrollment and making sure that everybody is captured in the National database”, he said.

He also said the issuance of cards is also ongoing but not at the pace at which we expect. NIMC is also opening up the landscape for other people to come in and help.

He emphasized that the NIMC card upon activation, serves five purposes which are: for Identification, payment, authentication of data, preloaded account and to withdraw money from anywhere in the world and it pays in local currency wherever MasterCard is acceptable.

“Our main challenge, apart from funding, is acceptability. Letting people know that NIMC is all about identity management and not card issuance just like the past. We are here to make sure you are who you said you are and also mass education because some religious zealots are linking the number to Anti-Christ, and some are questioning the benefits of the number to them so we need serious education because you cannot get your International Passport, acquire a land in Abuja, renew your Driver’s license and even pay your tax without your NIN”,  He said.

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