RECENTLY, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) indicated that it would no longer register candidates who do not have the National Identity Number (NIN) for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). It warned that beginning with the 2020 examination, only intending candidates who have the NIN would be registered. JAMB made this known via a series of tweets on its verified Twitter handle (@JAMBHQ). According to the board, “All candidates wishing to take the 2020 UTME must have the National Identification Number (NIN). Prospective candidates are urged to visit the nearest @nimc_ng office for their capturing. The board would only register candidates with NIN.”
According to the National Identity Management Commission (NMIC), NIN is a set of numbers assigned to an individual upon successful enrolment. Enrolment consists of the recording of an individual’s demographic data and capture of the 10 fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture and digital signature, which are all used to cross-check existing data in the National Identity Database to confirm that there is no previous entry of the same data. Once this (de-duplication) process is completed, the data is then stored with a unique NIN assigned to it. It should be noted that the NIN, once issued to a person, cannot be used again; it cannot be issued to another person even if the previous holder is dead.
As the NIN consists of 11 non-intelligible numbers randomly chosen and assigned to an individual at the completion of enrolment into the National Identity Database (NIDB), an individual’s NIN is retired once a death certificate is presented to the NIMC and his or her death is established. Given the obvious merits of NIN with respect to information management, national planning and national security, it is not difficult to see that JAMB’s latest directive is part of attempts to get citizens to enrol for it. Going by the extant rules, all citizens and legal residents in Nigeria, from age zero (birth) and above, are eligible to enrol for the NIN. In this regard, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with JAMB’s directive, provided that the NIMC takes due advantage of the directive and ensures that the largely unofficial charges imposed on people registering for the national identification card are eliminated altogether.
To say the least, the country currently faces daunting security challenges and needs all the help it can get to tame the menace. As nearly every informed Nigerian is well aware, a major obstacle to tackling the multifarious security challenges is the lack of reliable statistics on citizens. In most cases, Nigerians are subjected to various forms of identification without a cohesive thread weaving all the necessary information together. But just like the Bank Verification Number (BVN) which can be pivotal in addressing financial frauds, the NIN is pivotal to national security. It is therefore incumbent on all Nigerians to have it.
While JAMB’s directive will admittedly cost intending candidates some degree of discomfort as they seek to register for the NIN, that may be no more than a price they are required to pay to live in a more secure, data-driven society. Among other things, the NIN is used to tie all records about an individual in the NIDB and establish or verify his or her identity. The main objectives behind its initiation must therefore always be borne in mind.
We endorse JAMB’s directive on the NIN and enjoin prospective UTME candidates to adhere to it. It is a step in the right direction.