Challenges Of Identity In Addressing Vulnerability And Crisis

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By Favour Egbuta (Abuja)

Over one hundred million of Nigeria’s population are not yet identified.
According to the National Identity Management Commission, over one hundred million Nigerians have no identity.

This figure significantly represents the poorest and most vulnerable groups which include women and girls, less-educated, refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, stateless persons, persons with disabilities, people living in rural areas and conflict zones.

Since the commencement of identity registration and enrolment in 2012, only about forty one point five people have been issued with national identification numbers.

The Commission says it needs one hundred and thirty two million Naira to register all Nigerians by 2025. However, the bigger task is accessing the most vulnerable population.

Nigeria has not been able to accurately identify over one hundred million of its national population, which means, government policies and programmes cannot precisely be targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable population because they cannot be identified.

Lack of identification of persons living in Nigeria has a massive security dimension. It can tremendously constrain securitisation and combative missions as security agents may not have reliable information about criminal suspects or targets.

At this point, the Nigerian Immigration Service hasan important role in checking and registering the influx of persons in and out of the country.

Eanwhile, existential problems in Nigeria continue to push Nigerians to the point of inaccessibility, and where government develops pro-poor intervention programmes, such efforts fail as it is hinged on unreliable data.

Lack of identities or records of such targeted population also means that, the objectives of the interventions are not achieved and such intervention efforts may not reach the vulnerable groups that need it.

Consequently, resources are wasted, while the crisis continues to deepen in the absence of means of identifying the real target population.
In 2020, humanitarian crisis in Nigeria has reached about seven point nine million people requiring humanitarian assistance as against seven point one million recorded in 2019.

Nigeria is currently faced with overarching security challenges and the spread of coronavirus pandemic which has heavily impacted the world.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, about eighty two point nine million Nigerians live on less than one dollar per day while Jihadist violence and other inherent security issues have displaced about two point five million Nigerians.

For government’s policies and programmes to achieve their desired results, it must be planned using reliable statistics and accurate data.

This will help government to prioritise resource allocation, know who gets what, when and how in Government’s efforts such as COVID-19 palliatives, social investment programmes, school feeding programme, humanitarian interventions in the North-east, amongst others.

Relying on accurate data of the target population will help in tackling many human development crises.

The National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, must do better to access and enrol vulnerable Nigerians and should equally commit to community sensitisation and awareness programmes in partnership with community-based civil society organisations, religious bodies and traditional institutions.

Sensitisation campaigns and awareness programmes conducted in local languages and by familiar groups, will easily communicate the advantage of NIMC scheme.

The Nigerian state must have a robust database of its population. NIMC should also partner with relevant Bodies to promote civil registrations nationwide.

Federal Government should examine the problem of identity management holistically as it will affect budgeting, policy planning, crime statistics, monitoring, prevention and control.

However, the Nigerian state can do better if its development actions are informed by a reliable and synchronised database.

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