Nigerians will now pay N5,000 to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for national identity card renewal or replacement. This is according to Fummi Opesanwo, the NIMC regional coordinator.
This disclosure comes at a time when millions of Nigerians are making haste to register for the National Identification Number (NIN) in order to meet the February 9 deadline set by the Nigerian Communications Communication (NCC) for linking NIN to SIM cards.
For the renewal of expired national cards, the N5,000 charge is a 67% increase from the previous N3,000 fee introduced by the commission in 2019. The fee remains unchanged for the replacement of lost or stolen ID cards.
Opesanwo further disclosed that NIN holders will have to pay a processing fee of N15,000 to correct erroneous dates of birth in the NIMC database. For name and address modification, N500 will be payable to the commission.
However, NIMC should rather be actively working to solve the NIN challenges millions of Nigerians are currently confronting.
Over 80 million Nigerians Earn Less than 38% of the Minimum Wage
The N5,000 ID card renewal fee by NIMC is equivalent to 17% of Nigeria’s N30,000 minimum wage. But 40% of Nigerians earn below N11,500 per month, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
4 in 10 Nigerians earn less than N11,500, which is 38% of the minimum wage. This means more than 80 million Nigerians can otherwise be classified as “poor”, living below the country’s poverty index of N137,430 per year.
This shows that majority of Nigerians would not be able to afford the N5,000 national ID card renewal fee, making the policy infeasible. With more than 150 million Nigerians still without NIN and over 170 million not obtaining their national ID card, the N5k renewal fee would dissuade Nigerians with expired or lost ID cards from applying for new ones.
When the outrageous N15,000 fee payable to correct wrong dates of birth is factored in, it becomes even far less likely that Nigerians who entered inaccurate birth date information for NIN would bother effecting correction.
NIMC should either downwardly review these charges or scrap them entirely, as the fees offer absolutely no incentive to millions of Nigerians who are yet to be represented in the country’s identification database.
The NIN Slip Is Sufficient as ID
The NIN slip is a valid and acceptable means of identification in Nigeria. It was always going to be, with the long and arduous process of getting the national ID card leading to most Nigerians only obtaining the slip.
Unlike the national ID card, the NIN slip has no expiry date. Nigerians are, therefore, far more interested in getting the NIN slip, a process which still presents its own challenges.
NIN enrolment is free, but there have been cases of extortion from officials at NIN registration centres to exploit Nigerians urgently trying to beat the deadline for NIN-SIM linking.
Some effort has been made to bring culpable parties to book as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami recently directed the suspension of NIMC staff members who extorted money from applicants at the Bauchi and Kaduna state registration centres.
While commendable, several Nigerians are still being pressured to bribe staff in many other NIMC centres all over the country. The commission should be ruthless and consistent in dealing with officials compromising the credibility of the NIN registration process.
Another concerning issue is that of the NIMC mobile app. The updated app has worked for some Nigerians, but many people have also reported that the app keeps malfunctioning and preventing user access.
Being a platform available to generate the NIN slip and link NIN to SIM, the inconsistencies and recurrent glitches on the app means that several Nigerians remain unable to leverage its features. The app has to be revamped for people to enjoy all that it has to offer.
The app has only amassed over 100,000 downloads on Google Play Store, and Nigeria has up to 30 million smartphone users. This goes to show that despite public interest in the app, only a few people are actually trying it out.
Instead of reviewing fees for national ID card renewal and correction of wrong NIN data, the NIMC should be focused on improving the transparency of the NIN registration process as well as ensure that the mobile app offers premium user experience.
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