By Roland Enya-Forte
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has said that there are about 10,000 uncollected National Identity Smart Cards in Cross River State.
The NIMC also said that the delay in issuing of the cards was due to the fact the commission had to register up to 10 million Nigerians before printing the card which is supposed to be multipurpose.
Godwin Odey, the head of the NIMC office in Cross River revealed this on “The Dialogue With Agba Jalingo” a weekly public affairs program on HIT 95.9 FM Calabar on Sunday where he also disclosed challenges in the processes of getting a comprehensive database for Nigerians.
“We started registration in Cross River State in 2012 and so far only 30% of population registered in the state,” Odey said, adding that; “The estimated population in the state is 3m, we have faced challenges of logistics and poor funding.”
On those qualified to register, he said that: “Every Cross Riverian is supposed to be captured on the database because the national ID card serves as a form of identification outside the country,” Odey said. “Minors can register but must wait till age sixteen to obtain their cards,” he added.
Odey who revealed that all databases are currently been harmonized with the one currently issued supporting about 14 applications, stressed that this was a clear departure from the ones issued by the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration and assured that issues of privacy, identity theft, and security has been taken care of.
“Allegations of extortion is a big challenge, the human factor and our social situations come into play here,” he said.
However, he lamented that despite having staff in across the state, the NIMC only operates in a handful of local government areas with efforts been made to scale up its presence and advised residents to track their cards on the commission’s website (www.nimc.gov.ng).
But, the Civil Society Organizations doubt the ability of the NIMC to fulfill its role as outlined by the NIMC act of 2007 as the level of awareness is currently not enough.
“Government is not serious about the national identity card project as all their efforts have been a sham,” said Paolo Ogbeche, a Community Development Consultant who was also a guest on the radio program.
“Except we localize the system, it will not work,” Paolo stressed and was skeptical about the acceptability of the cards outside the country and quickly point out the politicking in the system.
He said while “A genuine system will enhance social security and reduce crime, the national identity card will expose the truth about our population,” and opined that: “we need political will to make this work.”
He charged NGO’s CSO’s and faith based organizations to mobilize the citizenry to register.