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Biometrics enrollment partners of Nigeria’s digital ID project claim payment backlog

Biometrics enrollment partners of Nigeria’s digital ID project claim payment backlog

Some private partners licensed by the National Identity Management Commission of Nigeria (NIMC) to enroll citizens for the country’s national identification number (NIN) program have reached out to President Ahmed Bola Tinubu for help over unpaid debts.

In an open letter published by Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper on August 8, one of the agents, Ibrahim Usman, writing from Kaduna, says he is among those who have not been paid by the NIMC for the past one year and eight months.

In the letter addressed to Tinubu, Usman says they toiled in villages, towns and cities of the country to enroll citizens for the NIN, but their claims for payment for their services, for nearly two years now, have yet to be paid by the NIMC. The agency blames the delay on an ongoing wait for funds to be disbursed by Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance.

Per the letter, the NIMC entered into an agreement with some agents in 2020 to carry out NIN enrollment at the cost of $1 per successful registration, and the partners were expected to prefinance some of the cost by procuring biometric equipment for the exercise.

“We have contributed immensely to the realization of over 100 million NINs captured in the NIMC database, which was widely celebrated by the then Minister of Communications and Digital Economy without finding it necessary to settle the real foot soldiers that carried out the exercise,” Usman writes.

He adds that many of the agents are young graduates who underwent training for the enrollment using their own funds. “Individuals sourced loans from banks, relations and other financial institutions and purchased the necessary equipment and spent lots on logistics for the success of the exercise, but we are being abandoned with no any communication from both licensees and NIMC,” a portion of Usman’s letter reads.

“We have lodged several complaints with the NIMC, Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and other identified stakeholders to consider our plight but to no avail. Your Excellency, we now find it difficult or almost impossible to continue with the exercise due to backlogs of financial burden and our debtors are now in legal battles with us.”

The NIMC recently reported that the NIN enrollment had reached 101.6 million as of July, with a drop in the monthly enrollment figure to below one million for that month. It is not clear if the drop is linked to the grumbling by the unpaid licensed agents.

In his letter, Usman is beseeching the president to use his good offices to call for an acceleration of the payment.

Ibrahim Usman, the letter writer, tells Biometric Update that there are more than 200 licensed agents seeking delayed payments. Those payments, he says, amount to 20 billion naira (US$26 million) or more, depending on the exchange rate used.

Biometric Update reached out to the NIMC via email for comments on these claims, but had yet to receive a response at the time of publishing this article.

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