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NIN registration: Trade Council seeks review of challenges faced by Nigerians

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The US-Nigeria Trade Council, United States of America says there is a need to urgently review the challenges faced by Nigerians both at home and in diaspora in the ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) registration exercise.

The council made the call in a statement signed jointly by its  Executive Director, Mr Titus Olowokere and its Consultant Advisor, Prof. Martin Okafor on Wednesday in Atlanta, and obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

The statement said the NIN registration was a  laudable goal for creating a single national identity database for Nigerians.

It said the exercise had the anticipated positive outcomes of enhanced administrative efficiency in budgeting, planning and policymaking.

The council, however, said it was concerned about the time constraints of the directives to force compliance with the NIN registration deadline amid the raging COVID-19 disease.

”In this unprecedented and challenging global pandemic, an estimated 21 million Nigerians, who have not yet registered for their NIN currently face two untenable options,” it said.

According to the statement, they either choose to defy the increased existential health risk of COVID-19 while waiting at NIN registration centres or lose their telephone access due to blocked Subscriber Information Module (SIM) without NIN.

The statement said Nigerians, especially those in diaspora face unique difficulties in complying with the current NIN registration deadline of Feb. 9.

“With pandemic-related travel restrictions in their host countries and pandemic-related income reductions, the additional logistical and processing cost burden for the NIN registration can be prohibitively discouraging .

”The threat of blocked Nigerian phone SIM, which is linked to their bank accounts in Nigeria, presents undesirable difficulties with future financial transactions in Nigeria.

”Nigerians in diaspora incur significant processing fees paid to the proxy agencies for NIN registration, in addition to the prohibitive logistical costs associated with appearing in person at the enrollment centres for the biometric capture.

“These ‘hidden’ costs for a ‘free’ NIN registration generally include costs of a two-day roundtrip travel by air or land, overnight hotel accommodates, car rental, loss of vacation pay, and other travel related costs.

”The statement said there were are only eight published enrollment centres to serve diaspora Nigerians resident in the entire USA.

It said these eight enrollment centres were in five cities, namely: Atlanta (one), Chicago (one), Houston (three), Minnesota (one), and New York (one).

The statement added that in the United Kingdom, there were six enrollment centres in two cities, namely London (four) and Leicester (two).

It said due to these reasons, some Nigerians would have to travel thousands of kilometres for their biometric capturing at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) proxy centres.

”We implore the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa  Pantami, and the Director-General of NIMC, Mr Aliyu Aziz, to intentionally review and alleviate these daunting challenges faced by the NIN registrants who are resident in Nigeria and in the diaspora.

”We also advocate for options that minimise the indirect tangible and intangible cost burdens of registration and an increase in the capacity of NIMC to rapidly implement and manage such a massive NIN project through safe and socially-distanced strategies during this deadly pandemic,” it said. (NAN)

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