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NIN: UTME candidates battle multiple pains inflicted by touts, NIMC officials, JAMB


Imran Musa
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On March 26, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board said it was mandatory for every candidate to supply their National Identification Number before registering for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. GRACE EDEMA writes about the challenges and stress prospective candidates go through to register for the NIN

Last Thursday afternoon, the National Identification Number registration centre at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, was overcrowded as applicants pressed on each other to get their registration done.

The applicants, many of whom were students and some in their school uniforms, were sweating profusely under the scorching sun hoping to be called or given a number when next to come back to check if it was yet their turn.

Students’ ordeal

Seventeen-year-old Tunde walked wobbly away from the crowd as he went to take a seat on the grass around the registration centre. He was tired and famished.

He narrated his ordeal to our correspondent, “I have been here since 5am just to pick a number for when I will be able to do my capturing and others, but the crowd here has been terrible for the past two weeks immediately the JAMB registrar said that we need to have the NIN to complete our UTME registration.

“I have not eaten since morning and this is 2pm and I am tired already. Though some people are paying to get it done quickly, but I don’t have any money to pay.”

Our correspondent also discovered that there were racketeers all over the school and other crowded centres across the state, who charge desperate applicants the between N3000 and N5000 (depending on one’s bargaining prowess).

The racketeers always bypass the crowd in the queues to help their ‘clients’ get the registration done immediately, while those who can’t afford to pay will keep waiting in the queues or keep checking every day until they get frustrated and part with some cash.

An applicant, who gave his name simply as Musiliu, said he got a number four days previously and was able register for his NIN that Thursday after parting with N3000.

“It took me four days to be attended to; it was so stressful because the crowd was much; everyone wanted to get the NIN so as to be able to register for the UTME, but the suffering is much. It is like that all over Ikorodu; getting a place to register for the NIN is very difficult,” he said.

At the Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, Akoka, where the NIN registration is located, our correspondent observed a handful of people trying to get their registration completed.

There are racketeers around the place too, who discreetly help those who can afford to pay them.

One of them, who gave his name as Laysco, asked our correspondent to pay N10,000 for her to be taken inside to get her NIN done. After intense negotiation, the racketeer agreed to N4,000.

Laysco said, “Madam, that’s the way we help people here, else they will keep queuing up for days without getting the NIN. If you pay now, I will take you inside and get you registered quickly.”

Similarly, a computer-based test centre owner at the Abule-Egba area of Lagos State, Mr Ayomikun Odunla, said he decided to make provisions for students to register for their NIN every Saturday at his outlet so that they would not miss their classes.

“I understand that many of the candidates are still in school or attending tutorials, so what I did was to invite an NIN agent to stay beside my shop to get the students registered. So, this is the way I have been able to help them without them missing classes, because they will still come to my CBT centre to register and sit their exam,” he stated.

He added that quite a lot of the students approach his shop every Saturday and it was certain that within 24 to 48 hours, the NIN would have been ready.

These are the experiences of most students in Nigeria, who want to get their NINs so as not to miss the 2021 UTME.

More students are now found at various NIN registration centres across the country going through difficulties to get their NINs.

Furthermore, these impressionable young adults do not want to miss the opportunity of writing the UTME, they thereby endure any hardship, delay or fee required to get the NIN.

They will need the NIN because recently, JAMB introduced its use for the registration of the 2021 UTME.

Reasons for JAMB’s insistence

Registration for the 2021 UTME started on April 8 and ends May 15, while the exam will take place from June 5 to June 19, 2021.

Recently, the Registrar and Chief Executive of JAMB, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, said the move was for security reasons and to curtail examination malpractices, adding that the directive was from the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.

“It is for security reasons. For us at our small level, it helps us to avoid impersonation, but there is a bigger picture. There is insecurity in the country and we know that many of these problems are there because we have identification problems. We can’t identify every citizen; where they are and what they are doing.”

Opinions of stakeholders

However, the Chairman, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Lagos State, Mr Olawale Amusa, said it was a waste of time and putting the students, who are supposed to be doing revision, through stress by asking them to get the NIN.

He called on the government and JAMB to give a one-year room to allow students to keep registering, while it could now be enforced in 2022.

Amusa stated, “If the government wants to be sensitive with COVID-19, I don’t think they should make the NIN the compulsory for this period, because we all know what the masses are facing. We have few centres for the NIN and there are a lot of people.

“We are all working towards curtailing the spread of COVID-19; if that is the case, I don’t think they need to make it compulsory for the registration for the UTME at this period of time when we are still battling with COVID-19. We feel that it should be extended to next year so that the UTME candidates would have registered for the NIN.

“It is not convenient; these children are still in school from Monday to Friday, and at the same time, they want to register; when will they have the time to register and revise, coupled with over population at the centres; we appeal to the government to extend it and it should not be part of the conditions for UTME registration this year.

“Yes, some NIN centres are collecting between N3000 and N5000; this is to tell you how bad it is and they have to queue; if they don’t comply, they will not be attended to. It is not possible with the multitude of people at the centres; some students even go there five times before it is done; it is a nice initiative but it shouldn’t be now.”

In his own opinion, the Secretary-General, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Dr Mike Ike-Ene, explained that going by the population of potential applicants, it was impossible for Nigeria to get it right, saying it would be best if the government could shift the ‘no NIN, no UTME’ order to 2022.

He said, “If it is a process of getting the records of our growing children, I have no problems with that; the only problem will be continuity and making sure that some people are not shut out. What should be done is to ask some NIMC officers to go to the various schools and let the students have their NIN done in their schools instead of asking them to go to the various centres and offices, while the time for lessons will be wasted.

“Let the National Identity Management Commission hire more hands and train more hands that will take the machine to various schools and register our students.

“I agree that Nigerians need to keep records; the timeframe can be a problem, but the Nigerian government can look at the timeframe and shift the implementation of the order to 2022. I know that the government did not just wake up overnight with the directive and this is tied to exam malpractices.

“If that is the case, it means there is no way the candidates can meet up with the registration because if the UTME registration is starting this Thursday and by population of Nigeria, I don’t think all the intending candidates will get it right. They should leave it for now get back to the drawing board and think how they can approach it better.”

Crowd and COVID-19

An infectious disease physician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr Iorhen Akase, maintained that it was important for the government organise the NIN registration in an orderly manner so as to avoid a third wave of COVID-19.

Akase stated, “Government activity will have to resume and this issue of the NIN has always come up; we do know that the number of cases is down and transmission is low, but I think if you put the two together, it boils down to how the government can be organised in doing this in such a way that there will not be overcrowding at the point of registration.

NIMC’s view

However, in atelevised report, director-general, National Identity Management Commission, Mr Aliyu Abubakar insisted that NINenrolment was free, saying that no one should pay for it.

He said, “NIN is free and it isfree for all citizens, and nobody should pay anyone; it is a crime for thegiver and taker. All of our staff that are found wanting are being disciplined,but we are not in charge of what happens outside the centres and we have engage security operatives to work on that.

“My advise is that peopleshould resist making any payment, even the private sector who are engaged, itis the government that will pay them.”

 

Source: PUNCH

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