The National Identification Number (NIN) is now more important than ever to candidates planning to take the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as they would not be able to register without it. However, enrolling for the NIN is not a tea party, reports KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE and DAMOLA KOLA-DARE.
Registration for next year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) would be different. The Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) has informed intending candidates that registration for the examination would only be possible with their National Identification Number (NIN).
Its spokesman, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, urged prospective candidates to get their NIN to avoid missing out on the 2020 UTME, which would open for registration in January.
He said: “We want to further appeal and remind prospective candidates on the need to get themselves registered centrally under the NIN scheme.
“They must consider this as compulsory, if they intend to participate in the examination when the time comes. There is no other means of acquiring our registration documents for the examination except through the NIN and that is why we are calling on them now to intensify efforts in getting registered to avoid ‘Had I Known’.
“No excuses will be entertained and that is the essence of this constant reminder so that nobody will be left out.”
According to the NIMC website, the NIN “is a set of numbers assigned to an individual upon successful enrolment. Enrolment consists of the recording of an individual’s demographic data and capture of the 10 fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture and digital signature, which are all used to cross-check data in the National Identity Database to confirm that there is no previous entry of the same data.”
JAMB’s interest in the NIN is in its usefulness in managing logistics and checking fraud.
The NIN would help JAMB harmonise the data of candidates for the UTME to address the challenges of underage registration, examination malpractice, multiple registration, and reduce registration costs.
On underage registration for the UTME, JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, is particularly interested in how the NIN would help weed out candidates not up to 15.
During a meeting of JAMB, NIMC, and the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) in Abuja, Oloyede said: “So, for me, if we have 15 years as they have agreed, nobody who is below 15 years should register; and anybody who is below 15 let’s come and address that person specifically.”
Registration journey ahead of candidates
The NIMC began registering Nigerians for the NIN in September 2010 and had registered over 36.6 million and legal citizens aged zero and above as at last September.
On the average, about 1.6 million candidates register for the UTME yearly. It means about that number of candidates may need to get the NIN if they have not already done so before they can attempt registering for next year’s examination for admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
However, enrolment for the NIN is not without hassles. Though no deadline has been announced for the NIN, since last year, the Federal Government made it mandatory for anyone seeking to obtain the international passport to get the NIN before processing the travel document. So, candidates registering for the UTME are not the only group of people in need of the NIN for official use.
Registration for the NIN entails the enrollee visiting designated NIMC centres or local government area secretariats to fill forms, do biometrics (photographs and fingerprints). Once done, the enrollee is asked to return, usually after two weeks, for the NIN.
However, the process is not that straight forward and involves long waits and delays – at a time no national deadline has been announced. Some people even bribe to shorten their wait time at the centre.
A mother of three told said that she had to pay N1,500 to do her biometrics at the NIMC, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos when she needed to renew her international passport.
‘’At first, I wanted to wait but when I realised I would save time, I just paid the N1,500. I observed that the NIMC workers have their customers who pay them. So, while others on the queue are waiting to be captured, one official would just come to the person capturing and say, ‘after the one you’re doing, do this, this, and this people.’ Another official would come and tell the person to do ‘these 1,2,3, 4 for me.’ All this while, people who did not pay were on the queue and the queue would not move,” she said.
Sunday, a resident of Ikotun, Lagos lamented that when he attempted to register for his National ID Card, it was a daunting task because the centre was crowded and not only that, there was shortage of manpower to attend to the large crowd.
He queried why the NIN would be made mandatory for candidates seeking to write UTME because it is not always easy getting enrolled at NIMC centres.
He said: “I do not know why young prospective candidates would be made to undergo the stress of registering for NIN. Even those of us who are old did not find it easy to register let alone getting the National ID card. I just hope the NIMC will make sure the candidates are enrolled in time for the examination.”
A prospective UTME candidate who spoke to our correspondent at a tutorial centre in Lagos appealed to the NIMC to ensure there were enough personnel to attend to those who want to enrol because, according to her, when she got a centre around Ikola, a Lagos suburb, to register, there was only one agent attending to a large number of people.
“When I got to an enrolment centre around Ikola, there was only one agent attending to a large number of people. It was frustrating, so I had to leave. Even a friend who had got there early told me she could not register for the NIN,” said the candidate who simply called herself Rose.
Awareness still low
Though JAMB has made its stand on NIN clear since September, awareness is still low among prospective candidates.
Most of the prospective candidates interviewed by our correspondent said they did not know about NIN being mandatory for the UTME.
A candidate, who simply called himself Timileyin, noted that he had not registered for NIN. He decried the lack of awareness. He said he did not hear of it not until his friend who saw it on JAMB’s Twitter handle called his attention to it.
He said: “The awareness generated on the rule is not enough. I did not hear it on radio or television. A friend called my attention to it, and all efforts to register have been fruitless because many candidates are trying to register at the same time. Nobody wants to be left out because the examination is fast approaching.”
A parent approached by our correspondent, who did not want to be named, said she had not heard anything concerning NIN enrolment for UTME registration. She wondered when such pronouncement was made.
She said: “I have not heard about this. When was it announced? I don’t know our children now have to get NIN compulsorily before they are eligible to write the exam. I just hope this will not cause panic because registration centres will now be overcrowded with candidates since it is compulsory to have it.”
A father, who simply identified as Mr Olushola, expressed his dissatisfaction with the NIN rule.
Questioning the rationale behind using NIN as a prerequisite for UTME, he said: “I do not really understand what is going in this country. Those in power just create rules in arbitrary fashion without considering the implications. You just wake up one day and you are told without enrolling for NIN, you won’t be allowed to sit for UTME. I recall some years back when a certain Minister of Education introduced Post-UTME, which still operates till today. Everything we do in this country we claim it is to eradicate corruption. The Post-UTME, for me, is needless. In advanced countries, admission into tertiary institutions is not as stringent as ours. We like making things difficult for ourselves and that is why our students seek admission in foreign countries.
“It is hard to understand if malpractice has been reduced or eradicated now that the exam is computer-based.”
Some tutorial centre managers, who prepare candidates for public examinations, are however aware. They spoke of sensitising their students on the importance of the NIN registration before registration begins in January.
On his part, Mr. Johnson, a teacher at a tutorial centre in Ayobo area of Lagos, called on the NIMC to expedite action on the registration so that candidates would be duly registered before the UTME portal opens.
“Time was when gaining admission into our tertiary institutions was very easy.Then, once you passed your West African School Certificate (WASC) exam and UTME (then UME), you would be admitted into the university of your choice. Now that NIN has been made compulsory for candidates, in the next five years, nobody can tell what the new rule would be. My appeal to NIMC is to work relentlessly to make sure all candidates are registered.”
Another teacher, Mr Olufemi, said he had plans to take all candidates in his study centre to an enrollment office to be registered once and for all.
He said:” I heard about the rule just recently. My plan is to contact an agent friend of mine to assist in enrolling my candidates because very soon registration for the examination would commence.
Then even if the government wants to curb malpractice and underage registration, there should have been a sensitisation campaign for all intending candidates through the media before making the pronouncement, not when the examination is almost here.”
JAMB/NIMC’s plans for 2020 UTME
Going by previous registration exercises in Nigeria – like that of the Bank Verification Number (BVN); and the SIM registration for all mobile phone users, deadlines usually cause a lot of problems for enrollees. With candidates already facing issues trying to enrol, there are concerns the situation would worsen as the examination approaches.
When our correspondent visited the NIMC Office in Alausa, an official, who refused to give her name because she was not authorised to talk, said the Commission would address the issues in the NIN registration.
“I am not in a position to talk. It is the duty of the Commission’s PRO to talk on the issue. But no matter the challenges encountered by candidates, we are working to address and make sure everyone gets registered before UTME registration commences,” she said.
However, JAMB spokesman, Dr Benjamin, said the board would work something out with NIMC.
He said: “We are talking with NIMC about the registration. We have not come up with anything yet. But we are looking at a situation whereby we can do the registration for the candidates. We are hoping we will come up with something that can be of mutual benefit to the candidates, NIMC and every other person involved.
“There is no other means of acquiring our registration documents for the examination except through the NIN and that is why we are calling on them now to intensify efforts in getting registered to avoid ‘Had I Known'” (The Nation)