Nigerian students have revealed their disappointment at being unable to register for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) due to inherent challenges as regards the mandatory National Identification Number (NIN).
As the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) commenced its UTME registration for 2021/22, the process required all candidates to provide their NIN and a linked mobile number.
According to JAMB Head, Media and Publicity, Dr Fabian Benjamin, the board emphasised the role of the NIN before issuing the general directive making it a compulsory requirement for this year’s UTME registration exercise.
Before the regisrations, the board had concluded all arrangements to use the NIN for its UTME/DE registration exercise, but owing to some minor hitches, it could not proceed with the process but gave the nation sufficient notice that it would be a major part of the 2021/22 exercise.Dr Fabian Benjamin, Head, Media and Publicity, JAMB
“For those who know that the board walks its talk, they ensured that their wards were registered for the NIN in preparation for the exercise,” he added.
UTME Candidates Lament over NIN
Now that the UTME registration has commenced, many candidates who are yet to obtain the NIN or link their SIMs have complained that they cannot complete the first stage of application process.
Tunde, a UTME candidate, told Technext that he fears missing out on this year’s UTME just for not possessing the NIN.
I have an android phone that I used to start my UTME registration. My SIM is registered but I have not been able to get my NIN. I cannot generate my JAMB profile code on the application portal because of the NIN that they are asking for.Tunde, UTME candidate
“This is my first UTME, and my parents are also worried that I may not be able to write the exam if I don’t get my NIN. I have enrolled for it here in Ibadan but the NIN slip is not yet ready,” Tunde said.
Together with a registered mobile number and valid email address, the NIN is one of the details UTME candidates must enter to successfully generate their JAMB profile code. The unique code can then be used to complete the e-registration at any accredited computer-based test (CBT) centre.
Bayo, another candidate, echoed his sentiments on the risk of being unable to sit for the UTME.
“Honestly I’m scared. I have enrolled for NIN since January but don’t know why the process is taking so long. I don’t want to stay at home because NIN made me miss UTME. JAMB should do something about this. I am sure there are many other students who find themselves in a similar situation,” he said.
NIN Challenges Persist as Students Risk Missing UTME
With over 2.1 million candidates registering for the UTME in 2020, thousands of students could be left stranded if they fail to meet the necessary NIN requirement for the exam this year.
Just 51 million NINs are currently integrated into the national identity database, and several people who have enrolled are yet to be assigned the NIN due to operational challenges and setbacks.
While some UTME candidates fall within the ages of minor enrolees (aged 15 years or below), they can still be registered for the NIN if accompanied by a parent or guardian who has a valid NIN.
Going by the NIMC guide to registering minors, parents will be required to fill the enrolment form on behalf of their children. The child’s biometrics are then captured and the parent is issued the NIN slip after processing.
However, the National ID card will not be given to such children until they become 16 years of age and above.
As is clear from Tobi and Bayo’s experiences (both above 16 years), it is the slow pace of the NIN registration process that could end up jeopardising many candidates’ chances of taking the UTME exam in 2021.
Technext reached out to Dr Fabian Benjamin for comments on whether there are provisions to exempt affected students from the mandatory NIN prerequisite but the JAMB Head of Media is yet to respond as at the time of this writing.