Wednesday, February 05, 2020 / 05:00PM / CBi Nigeria / Header Image Credit: CBi Nigeria
The Convention on Business Integrity/The Integrity Organisation in collaboration with ActionAid, Premium Times Nigeria , Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry, BusinessDay Newspapers and Proshare Nigeria Limited cordially invites you to the fourth series of the Regulatory Conversations (RC6.0), themed: "National Identity Number: Matters Arising & Implications To Nation Building".
While media sources have ascribed a failure verdict to the nation's effort in building the identity database through the issuance of the NIN, the NIN is still requested by some integral organisations in the country.
Though less than 20% of the national population have the NIN coupled with a struggling NIMC, the NIN is required to obtain the country's national passport, national driver's license, registration for public exams (JAMB), opening/maintain bank accounts, required to access retired savings accounts (RSA) and so on.
The Regulatory Conversations (RCs) Series, which began in September 2018, have provided a platform to interrogate Nigeria's philosophy of regulation and enabled stakeholders, including private sector actors, to proffer solutions to observed gaps in the way and manner regulatory agencies have been interpreting their mandates. To date, five sessions of the RCs have held addressing and proffering solutions to different issues.
The focus of the sixth Regulatory Conversations 6.0 would be on the National Identity Number system, the efficiency or otherwise of the operations and its implication for Nation building. This forum would provide a platform for a robust discussion; it anticipates having in attendance senior executives from the Government, Companies, Civil Society and representatives of relevant stakeholders.
The Need for a Regulatory Conversation Around the National Identity Number
Despite the fact that an estimated N121 billion (US $334million) plus has been wasted in the bid to build the nation's identity database through issuance of the National Identity Number (NIN) to every citizen of Nigeria, the project has failed to achieve its desired patriotic national objective. Having failed, the same NIN is now being used as a weapon against Nigerians.
Some banks have begun to deprive their customers the enjoyment of certain financial services for not having a NIN; registration of a new SIM card is now impossible without presenting the NIN; Retired Savings Account (RSA) Holders would only have access to their accounts on presentation of their NIN, and no Nigerian can obtain the new international e-passport with 10year validity without the NIN, processing driver's license, customs clearance during online purchases would also not be done without the unique NIN . This is very commendable as it starts to enable good quality data for development, security, financial, service provision planning in Nigeria.
However, recently, many candidates of JAMB reported the crowds at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) registration centers on 8th and 9th January, 2020 in the rush to obtain their NIN for exam registration and the demands allegedly made by NIMC officers for between N500 - N2000 before each candidate could be registered. After several technical difficulties and stampedes at some registration locations, JAMB was forced to temporarily suspend the use of the NIN for UTME registration.
Several private sector actors have over the years received various monies (see timeline analysis below) for implementation of the process yet today the capacity to delivery the project is still in doubt. The sum of US$433million excepted by the Federal Government in 2019 from World Bank for biometric national ID registration has led NIMC again to invite eligible startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), civil society organisations, NGOs and Nigerian Representatives of Development Partners (NRDPs) to express their interest in providing NIN data collection and issuance services. This deliberate escalation in demand through regulatory decisions against the evident lack of capacity to fulfil the demand in ways that preserve the public interest is proving to be a major affront and major source of additional hardship to Nigerians.
In the light of rampant and persistent security challenges hampering the country's desired growth, the capacity of NIMC (or lack thereof) in delivering the unique NIN to Nigerians within the timeframes provided needs to be urgently addressed. Since the creation of NIMC in 2007, the commission has registered and issued NIN to only about 38 million Nigerians out of the country's population estimated to be about 200million (less than 20% of the Nigerian population).
While registration is at no cost to citizens resident in Nigeria, there is a major fee, starting around $50/45GBP demanded from Nigerian adults and children in the diaspora to be paid to third-party companies working for NIMC.
The Question is, who does this regulatory action of escalating demand for the NIN without ensuring ability to deliver? For the millions already registered, they are unable to retrieve their NIN from the NIMC website but have to pay N20 to retrieve this information - again, who profits from this?
According to experts (such as Prof. Julia Black in her seminal article, Regulatory Conversations), sound regulation entails at least three things: standards setting, information gathering and behaviour modification. Nigeria has set data standards for identifying citizens and it is gathering the required information through NIMC and modifying related policies and procedures to curb unwanted practices and prevent others.
This is not only crucial and urgent it should be encouraged and supported. Having said that, public interest regulatory actions such as this need to be based on philosophy of regulation which ensures:
This last point is the basis of the proposed Regulatory Conversation. The Regulatory Conversations (RCs) Series which began in September 2018, have provided a platform to interrogate Nigeria's philosophy of regulation and enabled stakeholders including private sector actors to proffer solutions to observed gaps in the way and manner regulatory agencies have been interpreting their mandates.
To date, five sessions of the RCs have held viz:
RC1.0 contributed to the plethora of actions that led to an out of court settlement with MTN to settle the demand for US$8.1bn demanded by the CBN.
RC 2.0 focused on the maritime sector and corruption gaps identified escalated to the VP's office. This led to the sting operations on the sector now being carried out by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to begin to carry out.
RC 3.0 examined the activities of PEBEC (Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council). The PEBEC App is operational and serves as the Nigeria's Official Public Service Complaint website for complaints and feedback on services provided by - Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government.
RC 4.0 focused on Foreign Exchange restrictions policy of the present Administration and its immediate impact on consumers, key players in the food sector and the Economy.
RC 5.0 which held at the close of the Year 2019 xrayed the public and private-led integrity interventions in the systems and institutions in the Nation and the effectiveness of the interventions; through partnerships entered with the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), there is an improvement in the vessel and cargo clearance. Currently, a process is being developed to equip businesses with an integrity barometer.
The National Independent Number (NIN) saga brings to fore the following issues:
(a) Less than 20% of Nigerians now have the NIN; NIMC is struggling with registration.
(b) NIMC Act makes the unique NIN mandatory for:
(c) NIMC charges- through short code (beneficiaries of sums raised not disclosed)
(d) NIMC charges diasporas through 3rd party (licensed organisations) to collect data at $50/45GBP per person (beneficial distribution of sums raised not disclosed)
(e) Can NIMC be assisted? Can it achieve its aims with greater sensitivity to the public interest, transparency and accountability?
In order to address the above issues, the Regulatory Conversations 6.0 has been scheduled to provide a platform for a robust discussion; it anticipates having in attendance Senior executives from the Government, Companies, Civil Society and representatives of stakeholders affected by the issue.
This forum would examine the key sectoral issues in the context of the following viewpoints:
Please see the details of the Forum below:
Theme: National Identity Number: Matters Arising & Implications To Nation Building
Date: Thursday, March 5th, 2020
Venue: Grand Banquet Hall, Civic Centre - Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Opposite 1004, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Time: 9h30 Prompt (Registration/Networking starts at 9h00).
To confirm attendance, kindly contact:
Yinka Johnson (07013715571) email@example.com; or
Kitan Babalola (08067829272) kitan. firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Regulatory Conversations
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