National Identity Number (NIN) is Mandatory for every Nigerian.

By: Olaniyi Thevoice Abodedele
25 April, 2019

Column: Nigeria Community News

Pretoria - South Africa: The Nigeria High Commissioner to South Africa Ambassador Kabiru Bala has stated that it is mandatory for every Nigerian to enroll for the National Identification Number (NIN) which has just commenced in South Africa. He said this during an interview with The Nigerian Voice Newspaper, South Africa in his office at the High Commission of Nigeria, Pretoria on Friday 5th April, 2019.

"It is mandatory for everyone to enroll for the National Identification Number (NIN). It is not only mandatory but it is beneficial. When you say mandatory it is as if they are been forced. No, they are not been forced but the law says they must identify themselves with NIN and the e-ID card".

Explaining what NIN stands for, the Ambassador said that according to what he has been told by the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC) which is the body responsible for the enrollment and issuance of NIN and the e-ID Card, NIN is an 11 digit number that is generated automatically by metric information system that is going to be issued to each and every single Nigerian that wants to be identified as a Nigerian. Once a NIN is assigned to an individual, it can never be reassigned, given or used by another person – that makes it unique in nature. In the case of the demise of an individual, his/her NIN is retired once a death certificate is presented to the Commission and the individual’s death is established.

The High Commissioner confirmed that henceforth NIN is required before anyone can get or renew their International Passport, Driver’s License, voter’s card or any other service from government or individual. "Now, it is mandatory by law that you should have an identity that says you are a Nigerian, and now, if you are going to get a Passport or a Driver’s License or any other benefits that you will derive from government or individuals, you will need to have that number in other to identify yourself as all your document must carry your NIN," the Ambassador stated.

To show the seriousness of the Nigerian government that every Nigerian home and abroad must have a NIN, the Nigerian Ambassador stated that the government of Nigeria through the High Commission has informed its South African counterpart through a note verbal to the Department of International Relations and Corporation (DIRCO) informing them about the process of registering and identifying every Nigerian, as well as the importance of the National Identification Number (NIN) to Nigeria and South Africa at large.

Ambassador Bala said when the process is completed, the NIN and the e-ID Card will be the only official way to identify Nigerians because an individual's NIN will integrate and categorize all the numbers and item of an individual like his passport number, BVN, driver’s license, voters card number, bank accounts, landed properties etc. in just one single card called the e-ID Card. And that is what the Nigerian government is trying to do.

 “Also around the world identity theft is big. People stealing the identity of other people and used to commit crime, this exercise will give Nigerians the opportunity to identify themselves not only in Nigeria but even outside Nigeria because there are situations where we could have some other nationals of Africa that "maybe" have obtained the Nigerian passport and say they are Nigerians but in actual sense they are not Nigerians. Also this process will go a long way in fighting crime”, the Ambassador stated.

We asked the High Commissioner if there is a particular time frame or if there will be any form of enforcement from the Diplomatic Missions in foreign countries to ensure that by certain period of time all Nigerians are registered.

The Ambassador replied, "Well we have been informed that there is a time limit within which you need to register, that is between 90 and 120 days from the start of the exercise now. Even though that will not mean that what you have previously like the passport will not be valid, it is still valid but you will need to register within this particular period."

Regarding cost implication of registration for NIN, the Ambassador emphasized the need to let people know that NIN is free in Nigeria. However, he clarified that “outside Nigeria because the service is brought to you next to your door, then if you are over 16 years old you are required to pay the amount of $50 to obtain it, and for those who are under 16 years, $5 is the amount required to pay if you are in South Africa or other countries. This amount was decided by the National Identity management Commission (NIMC),” Ambassador Bala explained.

The Nigerian diplomat continued; “to my understanding because if you have to go back to Nigeria to register you will spend even more. This is an exercise that has never been done by any other country asides Nigeria for its citizens in the Diaspora. For those countries who have the highest data base like India, they require their citizens to go back to India in other to obtain the card. It is mandatory for them to go back home and do it. But for Nigeria that is not the case. You can do it at home which is free when you find yourself at home, and you can also do it outside the country, but outside the country comes with a fee. Our people need to understand that it is so because the service is brought closer to where they are”.

The Nigerian government has given permission to about six (6) companies to carry out the registration of Nigerians outside the shores of Nigeria. For South Africa, the Ambassador confirmed they have received from government the six (6) companies that have been authorized to do the registration for Nigerians outside of Nigeria. And the company responsible for South Africa is Thebez global; that is the company that has been given the mandate and license to register Nigerians in South Africa.

Ambassador Bala advised Nigerians in South Africa to make sure they enroll because he has enrolled. "I have gone and I have obtained my own NIN and if it is not legal I wouldn't get myself involved in it. I know that it is an exercise that is mandated by law and therefore I encourage all Nigerians wherever they are in South Africa, Lesotho and eSwatini. I encourage them to embrace this, I encourage them to go and register because I see the benefits," Ambassador pleaded.

 "If I can carry just one card with me that can identify me anywhere and I don't need to carry my bank card, I don't need to carry my driver’s license, I can use it as my passport to Ecowas countries and countries that are visa free for Nigerians because it conforms to such standards as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), why wouldn’t' I want to enroll and want to be registered? So I encourage every Nigerian because it is required by law to register, Ambassador Bala urged.

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