Nigerians don’t need national digital ID for voter enrollment, EC says
Nigeria‘s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given assurances that citizens do not need the national identification number (NIN) in order to register on the biometric voter roll.
According to daily newspaper This Day, the electoral body is also working to lay the groundwork for the imminent acquisition and roll out of the INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED), a system that will facilitate more voter access to polling stations through digital ID.
A press release issued by INEC’s national commissioner in charge of voter education, information and publicity, Festus Okoye, clears the air on information by some local media that the biometrics-backed NIN would henceforth be required for the voter registration process.
The official, the report notes, detailed the constitutional requirements for a Nigerian to be eligible for voter registration, and possession of the national digital ID is not one of them.
“No provision of the constitution or the Electoral Act makes the possession of the National Identity Number (NIN) compulsory for voters’ registration. A registrant that is not under a legal or constitutional disability and presents a birth certificate to a registration officer will be registered…,” part of the INEC official’s press statement quoted by This Day reads.
“The Commission, on its own part, and in the performance of its duties, cannot impose additional conditions for the registration of voters above and in excess of those already imposed by the constitution and the law,” it adds.
On the IVED rollout, the INEC official said it was part of efforts of the electoral umpire to carry out a voter registration system that conforms to the demands of the country’s national digital identity ecosystem.
There is currently a rush for the NIN in Nigeria after the federal government decided last December that the 11-digit number will now have to be integrated into the SIM cards of mobile telephone users. The process has since been ongoing though marred by controversy.
While it is now clear that the NIN is not needed for voter registration in Nigeria, there are reports that it will be required for many other uses apart from just SIM registration.
A recent report by Legit.ng revealed that the NIN will also be required for obtaining the national e-ID card; for acquisition of travel documents such as passports; when opening a personal bank account; establishing a driver’s license; participating in the national health insurance scheme; payment of taxes; transactions related to the contributory pension scheme; having access to welfare and other services from government; transactions with social security implications and all land matters subject to the Land Use Act.