Sir: An obvious advantage of the NIN registration is to have a reliable national database. Different regimes have encouraged Nigerians to procure the National Identity Cards but without much success. I consider the idea of linking the NIN registration to the mobile phone numbers quite astute and smart since it will compel people to register. The number of smart phone users in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country is enormous. In fact, mobile phones are now so indispensable in our lives for the day to day running of homes, offices, businesses, etc. This gadget though small, is powerful enough to get people disoriented whenever it gets missing or stops working due to the useful functions it performs and the large information stored up.
If the mobile phone gets us nonfunctional when it gets missing or stops functioning what will happen to the vulnerable members of the society when they shall be cut-off from their mobile phones in February? The vulnerable include the elderly, the infirmed and the people who are disadvantaged in one way or another. They obviously cannot go through the rigor of the NIN registration. I have heard an elderly person say that GSM was really made for her, because it keeps her in touch with her children and grandchildren no matter where they are. Recently, I called a caregiver in one of the states and she said she had never heard any such thing as NIN. I was shocked she said so because I get the advertisement for registration each time I make a call. The elderly people, the sick and the lonely at this period of the pandemic are in close touch with their loved ones through their mobile phones. Some of the people either have bank accounts or are able to leave their homes so as to join the huddle to procure the NIN. I feel their source of joy will be robbed if their lines are cut off.
I read procedures to procure the NIN, but in practical terms there isn’t much provision for the vulnerable members of the society. In my opinion I think the NIMC or their contract staff can be employed to take the fingerprints of the vulnerable members of the society and capture their photos following the COVID-19 protocols in order to actively include them in the registration. But I also wonder if this is the best time to carry out the NIN registration due to the recent surge of the second wave which is deadlier and more infectious. In the first wave people around the world were advised to stay home when they could. The NIN registration is really pulling crowds together. What do we want as a nation, a second lockdown? Postpone NIN registration? Or extend deadline to about June in order to efficiently carry out the exercise and reduce gathering of large crowd at registration venues. It is not surprising that the NIMC went on strike.
Rosemary N. Ossai wrote from Lagos.