The National Identity Management Commission officials across the country on Thursday cashed in on the rush to obtain the National Identification Number to fleece candidates.
Many candidates thronged registration centres on Wednesday and Thursday as the registration for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination would start on Monday.
The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board had on October 17, 2019, said only candidates with the NIN would be registered for the 2020 UTME.
The JAMB spokesman, Dr Benjamin Fabian, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday, insisted that there was no going back on the board’s policy on the NIN.
Findings indicated that touts and the NIMC officers were demanding between N500 and N2,000 from candidates.
In Ogun State, It was gathered that the touts, some of whom were working for corrupt NIMC officials, collected between N500 and N2,000 from each candidate to facilitate their quick NIN registration.
A candidate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he paid a tout N500 at the Oke-Mosan Abeokuta office of the NIMC, before he could obtain the number last week.
“The EFCC undercover operatives should be going to the centres across the country to see the evil of some lazy NIMC officials,” he said.
Also, scores of UTME candidates in Nasarawa State accused the NIMC of demanding money before capturing them.
One of our correspondent, who visited the NIMC in Lafia, the state capital, observed that thousands of prospective candidates were in long queues struggling to be captured by the NIMC officials.
One of the candidates, Sunday Michael said, “I have spent several hours and yet I have not been registered. People that met me here were attended to because they bribed the officials. Some NIMC workers called me aside and told me that if I had N1000 I should bring it and I would be captured without any hiccup.”
In Gombe State, a Senior Secondary School 3 pupil, Abdullahi Sanni said, “Since 6am we have been here; unfortunately I’m number 18 in the queue but they didn’t start work upon resumption at 8am. When they finally started, once you gave them money, you would be registered.”
In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, a 16-year-old candidate, Rebecca Ologhodien, said she went through stress trying to get her NIN.
She said, “I have been to their office for the past seven days, but I was lucky to get it on Tuesday. Some of my colleagues have yet to get, even when the UTME is approaching.
The Commission’s General Manager, Legal Services, Hajiya Hadiza Dagabana, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Wednesday in Abuja, revealed that there were fewer than 2000 enrolment centres in the country.
She said there were supposed to be at least 4000 enrolment points, going by international standards.
Dagabana, while responding to ours enquiries concerning the difficulties being experienced in the enrolment, said Nigerians’ penchant for ‘last-minute rush’ was to blame for the unsavoury situation.
“We started enrolment in 2012 but nobody was interested in the exercise. Then we were begging people to come out and enrol but they were not bothered. Now there is a crowd at the enrolment centres.
“If people have been coming out to register since we started in 2012 we would not have the crowds that we have today.
The NIMC official added that many parents, who were not bothered about the enrolment in the past, were coming for registration after realising that children below 16 years would not enrol if one of the parents had not obtained the NIN.
She added, “Our offices are open for life as long as the NIN is needed. The identity management system is a life-long arrangement. People are born everyday so we will continue to enrol Nigerians.”
She disclosed that the Registrar of JAMB, Professor Is-haq Oloyede, went round the NIMC centres in Abuja on Tuesday and was satisfied with what he observed concerning the enrolment.
She said the enrolment would become decentralised after the commencement of the Digital Identity Ecosystem project for the National Identity Management System.
In line with the ecosystem project, which is supported by the World Bank and other donors, the NIMC would license competent and qualified public and private sector service providers to capture the data of Nigerian citizens and legal residents for the NIN.
Over 10,000 enrolment centres will be established across the country when the project effectively takes off by the second quarter of the year, Dagabana told our correspondent.
“Some of these enrolment points will be mobile, some will be stationary and also some will have a multiple machines and equipment.
Dagabana further disclosed that the Data Protection Bill, which is awaiting presidential assent, will have to be signed into law before the digital identity ecosystem project will take off.
It was gathered that the enactment of the Data Protection Act was one of the conditions given by the World Bank and other donors who are funding the digital identity ecosystem project.
The licensed service providers would be paid from the funds provided by the World Bank at the end of each month, according to the number of persons they enrolled.