For many Nigerians, the day we came into the world was never recorded with proof. We grew up finding ourselves at various crossroads when our birth certificate or any form of government identification is requested from us. But do we really need a National Identity and a National Identity card?
According to Wikipedia, National identity is a person’s identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one’s citizenship status. Historically, the national identity of most citizens of one state or one nation tends to strengthen when the country or the nation is threatened militarily. The sense of belonging to the nation is essential as an external threat becomes clearer when individuals seek to unite with fellow countrymen to protect themselves and fight against the common threat. The Nigerian Government has invested tens of billions of naira in the past decade alone to ensure that her citizens and non-citizens are documented — tightening the border, accelerating deportations, deputizing local police — while doing loads of things to curb violence and security issues nation-wide.
Some critics will say we don’t need National identity expressed in a form of documentation, but it does seems to be the case that it is part of a modern world and can be potentially empowering and can also be a statement of political intent. What we now have in the 21st century includes; mass movement of people, more immigration and more clashes between people from different regions leading to the reconsideration about how important National Identity really is.
I remember with nostalgia, my first trip to the United States for a Global Youth meeting at the United Nations. My colleagues and I went to visit a state building as part of our cultural exchange, sadly I had left my National ID at home in Nigeria and did not have my International passport with me at the time. I was not allowed into the building. As young people, social interaction is a key form of cultural exchange when we are abroad or out of our local vicinity as such, places of interest when visited may require a government issued Identity Card. You do not want to go about every time with your International passport, risking it being misplaced. Best bet is to go about with your government issued ID in your wallet and/or purse.
The good news is that the call for a National Identity is now backed by the National Identity Card Policy which is designed to provide information on the objectives, legal framework, rules, guidelines and principles which form the Card System adopted for the National Identity Management System (NIMS). It includes the features of the National Identity Card, how the card may be obtained and/or issued to an individual, how the card may be used, conditions under which it will be replaced and/or withdrawn, usage parameters, operating context, wrong/inappropriate usage, and citizen’s right.
Nigeria is now ready to have a modern form of identification with bio-metrics through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) which was established by Act No. 23 of 2007 to primarily foster the orderly development of an identity sector in Nigeria. It has been reported that the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has deployed Enrolment Centres in its State Offices nationwide. This followed the successful certification of the premises based on its adoption of global best practise. There are also plans to establish additional registration centres and mobile registration centres in strategic locations for easy access to enrolment.
According to NIMC Website, Every citizen from the age of 16 years and above and legal residents are eligible to enrol for the National Identification Number (NIN).
The National Identification Number (NIN) is a set of numbers assigned to an individual upon successful enrolment. Enrolment consists of the recording of an individual’s demographic data and capturing of the ten (10) fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture and digital signature, which are all used to cross-check existing data in the National Identity Database to confirm that there exists no previous entry of the same data. Once this (de-duplication) process is completed the data is then stored with a unique NIN that is assigned to it. The NIN once issued to a person cannot be used again, (that is, it cannot be issued to another person even if the previous person is dead). It is the NIN that helps to tie all records about a person in the database and is used to check the identity verified.
Still want to be out of the grid? Off course not! Go now and register for the Nigerian National Identity Card and feel the pride of being a Nigerian. Visit www.nimc.gov.ng
Written by Esther Agbarakwe