Nationnewslead reports that The Independent National Electoral Commission is considering making the National Identity Number a precondition for registering voters when the continuous voter registration exercise commences in a few weeks, The PUNCH has learnt.
A national commissioner at INEC disclosed this during an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday. He said the NIN would help tackle challenges of underage voting, alien voting and other challenges associated with registration.
The national commissioner, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak, said a final decision would soon be reached. The INEC official explained that the permanent voter card was only supposed to be in use for a maximum of 10 years, adding that most countries rely on a national database and not the Permanent Voter Card for voting.
He said, “The NIN is the ideal. When we want to begin the continuous voter registration, we may consider it because ordinarily, a national identity card is what should be used for voting. When the PVC was introduced, it was meant to be in use for 10 years and the assumption was that within those 10 years, the national identity card would be in use by a majority of Nigerians.
“I can tell you that the NIN will be one of the preconditions for registration when the CVR starts. We are trying to harmonise all databases.”
When contacted on the telephone, the Director, Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Nick Dazang, said he could not say for sure if the NIN would be a precondition for registration, adding that meetings were still ongoing. He said once a final decision had been made, INEC would officially inform Nigerians. When asked if the NIN would be made compulsory for new registrants, Dazang said, “When we reach the bridge, we will cross it. For now, we have not announced the date for the registration exercise to begin and the conditionality. When we are ready, the commission will announce the procedure for the continuous voter registration so the commission has not taken a decision in respect of that.”
The INEC director said the commission was also looking at how to ensure that the registration is done amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic. INEC has not registered any Nigerian in over two years, a development which civil society groups have criticised. The commission had announced in November that the registration exercise would begin in the first quarter of 2021. Several government organisations have made the NIN a precondition for obtaining documents.
The Nigeria Immigration Service had in 2019 made the NIN a precondition for obtaining a passport while the National Examination Council and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board said recently that only persons with their NINs would be eligible to sit for exams.
The Federal Road Safety Commission also said recently that persons applying for driving licences must possess their NINs.
The demand for the NINs by government agencies has forced thousands of Nigerians to gather at enrolment centres of the National Identity Management Commission in flagrant disregard of COVID-19 protocols.