The Organise Labour has said that the National Identity Management Commission (NICM), can improve the security situation and fight against corruption in Nigeria in no small measure if the Federal Government empowers the agency to carry out its statutory functions effectively and efficiently.
Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) NIMC Unit Chairman, Comrade Asekokhai Lucky, said this when he addressed some issues bordering on the crucial roles and the responsibility the commission is supposed to play in the area of security, fight against corruption and reaching out to the vulnerable especially with the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic.
According him, “since 27 February, 2020 the first index case of Covid-19 pandemic was recorded in the country, things have never been the same again for Federal Government, state governments, local government areas and at the individual level.”
While he commended the Federal Government for taken all necessary actions to protect all residents in Nigeria, as well as provide succor such as palliatives to vulnerable Nigerians whose means of livelihood are affected by the proactive measures, he however said that the FG’s efforts regarding provision of palliatives have been riddled with controversies owing to the facts that there was no identity authentication or real time identification of the recipients.
He on went to say that the shortcomings that riddled the sharing of FG provided palliatives was “a void the NIMC can bridge if not for neglect with the National Identity Number (NIN) and Payment applet embedded in the GMPC e-ID Card issued by NIMC”.
Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS ), the labour leader noted that over 82.9 million Nigerians lived below the poverty line of N137,430 per annum which translates to about #375 per day; which by implication means that 40.1% of the population live in poverty.
He also cited the National Social Register of the Poor and Vulnerable Households Distribution by States as at 31st March, 2020; which says that the numbers of vulnerable households and individuals is about 2.6 million and 11 million respectively.
“However, on 2nd April, 2020 the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq said that 2.6 million vulnerable persons are currently to benefit from the Federal Government cash transfer intervention programme.
“But ever since the FG kick started the palliative distribution programme and conditional cash transfer, several Nigerians had accused it of been high jacked by middlemen at the detriment of the real vulnerable households. Others argued that it was highly politicised or skewed to favour members of a particular political parties etc.
“These have made several concerned Nigerians to call for the adoption of digital payment method, others suggested to identify the vulnerables by BVN, INEC records etc.”
Onward, he said; “Nonetheless, in midst of these intractable controversies, it is appalling and glaring that only a few spirited Nigerians like Nurudeen Alimi publication in Tribune Online of April 20, 2020 titled: ‘Covid-19 : Place of NIMC in Access to Social Security /Palliative in Nigeria,’ had called the Federal Government attention to the nearest solution to the problem which is the use of the National Identification Number (NIN) issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to identify , authenticate and provide a real time identity of the real vulnerables.
“It is no doubt that NIMC has the only all-inclusive and reliable Database in Nigeria. BVN with its about 40 million records is restricted to holders of bank account numbers which most vulnerables Nigerians don’t have. INEC with over 84 million records are only restricted to Nigerians of voting age from 18 years and above, FRSC, NIS, NCC-SIM registration as well have restrictions etc.
“The incidences of disappearance of Covid 19 index cases in some states of the federation without traces or rather difficult to trace can be taken care of by their NIN especially if NIMC is adequately funded to get all Nigerians registered and provided NIN which is equivalent to USA Social Security Number, UK ‘s National Insurance Number etc .
“Currently the about 42 million of Nigerians with their NIN registered with NIMC is actually inadequate for Nigeria’s about 200 million Nigeria population. Hence, this is why the Labour Situation Room on Covid-19 on 11th May, 2020 called on FG to empower NIMC to register all Nigerians.
“In as much as the COVID-19 had caused NIMC to halt enrollment as the staff are exposed to the hazards of physical contact with applicants or enrollees and other hazards as a result of daily exposure to computer rays for which the Union has been pursuing for the restoration of Hazard and other allowances, as well as Paramilitary Salary Structure to enable NIMC Staff deliver this all important National assignment seamlessly to Nigerians; we will also appeal to FG to please approve same for NIMC Staff.”