NIGERIA’s National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, is set to generate revenue of up to N328 billion every five years only from the renewal of the national electronic identity card, and Nigerians have taken to social media to protest this.
Launched in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, the smart card isn’t only meant to identify the owner, it can also be used to make payments, access social services, and as a “personal database repository”.
It is issued to persons who have obtained the National Identification Number (NIN), but the applicant must have attained the age of 16 years to be eligible. The card has a validity period of five years after which it will have to be renewed. Upon application, a new card will be ready, according to NIMC, within one to three months—depending on the availability of power and network.
A 2017 estimate of Nigeria’s population broken down according to age brackets states that there 110 million Nigerians aged 15 and above.
This means if every Nigerian eligible for an e-ID card had one, the commission is capable of generating as much as N328.6 billion from renewal applications alone. This can shoot up depending on how many requests there are for replacement, which costs almost twice the amount.
Nigerians take exception
Many Nigerians have expressed their objection to the revenue-generating policy on Twitter, following NIMC’s statement.
Edward Onoriodie (@edward_onoriode) complained that he is yet to receive his permanent identity card though he applied as far back as 2014.
“In fact, I stopped going to NIMC office to ask if my National ID is ready,” he added. “Now, NIMC is asking I pay N5000 for a renewal of an ID I never got. NIMC is a SCAM!”
Convener of Lagos SME Bootcamp, Ayo Bankole, argued that paying for a national identity card is “another form of tax on an already impoverished people”.
“This time, we are taxing those that may have no jobs for being unfortunate enough to be Nigerians. You now have to pay the govt to be a citizen of a country that doesn’t give a shit about its citizens,” he tweeted.
Another Twitter user, Mayowa Olagunju (iam_doctormayor) wrote sarcastically: “POS charge VAT increment Renewal of national ID card APC! Change!”
Issuance itself to cost money three years from now
Presently, the issuance of smart cards to first-time users are free of charge, but NIMC’s Director-General, Aliyu Aziz, has said this will no longer be the case as from 2022.
Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, said in September that NIMC has registered 37 million Nigerians. The ICIR was, however, unable to get information from the commission on how many e-ID cards have been issued so far.
Calls placed to three of its helplines on Tuesday were not answered and a fourth number, belonging to Customer Care manager Samuel Umukoro, was not available. An enquiry sent to its active Twitter account is also yet to be replied.
Here are other reactions from Twitter on the charge:
My first time of seeing what our National ID card looks like, I believe am not the only one, retweet let's know ourselves pic.twitter.com/RdwUarJba2
— Amaka_PH_Baker 🎂(Port Harcourt) (@kaka_swit) October 15, 2019
N5000 to renenw National ID card??? That means your citizenship as a nigerian expires after a certain period of time so you have to renew your citizenship with N5000 or else you are no longer nigerian? Who brought up this foolishness???
— WarepamorSammy 🇳🇬 (@Warepamorsammy) October 15, 2019
Renewing National id card is more like u renewing ur citizenship.
Whoever wants to buy my citizenship? u can DM me biko.. pic.twitter.com/uVBHM3vH9n
— DR ÖFË–ÑSÅLÅ DÏ ÖKÜ 🔥🇳🇬 (@_smithsydny) October 15, 2019