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NIN server issues frustrate ePassport applicants, others

A server issue, which the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) said it resolved in February, is frustrating many Nigerians as they cannot use their national ID number for e-passport application and other things, BusinessDay learned.

Experts say the problems may also be due to the current fuel shortage and rising cost of diesel, which is affecting many government offices, including the NIMC, an agency under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. . The deadline for registering the National Identification Number (NIN) has been repeatedly postponed by the government.

Many Nigerians have complained that despite obtaining the NIN, they cannot complete the renewal of their international passports, driver’s license and bank account opening, among other services.

In many cases people said they had completed registration at NIMC registration centers only to go to the passport office or bank to be told their NIN was not yet” fallen” into the national system.

An applicant trying to renew his passport said he had tried to complete his verification process for the past three days, but was unsuccessful despite having his NIN charged.

He said the last email he received from the Passport Office was “Reasons for verification failure are listed below: There is an error with NIMC, please contact support”.

According to the claimant, the system failure has been so for the last three days.

“The situation is affecting everyone and everything here. The situation is the same in Abuja. As of this week, whether you are for the first issue or renewal of a passport, when it comes to NIN verification, the process stops. Work accumulates; production also stops,” the plaintiff told BusinessDay.

As of March 2022, the NIMC has issued 77.1 million unique NINs. This means that the number of Nigerians without a NIN now stands at 126.7 million. Failure by authorities to extend registration could mean that millions of Nigerians will not be able to obtain a new passport or renew their old passports, among others.

Several calls from BusinessDay to NIMC’s public relations people went unanswered. In February, after several days of glitches and poor service, the commission admitted in a statement that its server was temporarily unavailable “due to a maintenance service provided by one of the commission’s network service providers.”

After more than a week, the commission said the service had been restored, allowing people to continue with their registrations. But many people also told BusinessDay that despite successfully registering, they were still unable to complete the passport issuance process because the ID numbers had not yet dropped into their profile. It also affects people trying to activate new SIM cards or get a driver’s license.

“I registered for NIN and received NIN, but my network service providers claim my NIN failed NIMC verification,” Wale Babalola said.

Tosin Olugbenga, CEO of Afridex Finance, said the problems also affect students preparing for JAMB exams.

“Many students who registered for the NIN weeks ago had their slips printed, but when they want to register for JAMB, the NIN is not valid. NIMC always complains that the server is down. Why are you making the NIN mandatory when you’re not ready to put the right system in place? Olugbenga tweeted.

Joy Eze, another development-affected candidate, told BusinessDay that she had completed all other processes and was only waiting to receive a verification message from the NIM, but that one took two days. , interrupting his travel plans.

“I had planned to leave in three days since all other passport renewal processes were completed, only to be delayed by NIMC verification. This will really affect my travel plans as there is no sign that the problem of the system would be resolved soon,” Eze said.

A staff member from the Ikoyi Passport Office who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the delay in the NIN synchronization process across Nigeria had been going on for some time.

The worker said: “NIMC had issues and it continued to persist. I believe they are having difficulty and it is affecting our operations in the office at the moment. We really feel for applicants this period as they are unable to process their passports.

“There is nothing we can do at the passport office to improve the situation. We have tried to contact NIMC to find out what is really going on. There is a limit to what we can do at NIS. We only donated NIMC office space here in Ikoyi to facilitate our operations. The problem in question can only be solved by NIMC. We cannot get involved.

Some experts said on condition of anonymity that the NIMC may not have prepared its systems adequately for the millions of people registering with the NIN.

With 77.1 million Nigerians registered so far, experts have said NIMC’s servers could be overloaded, hence the repeated postponement of the registration exercise which aims to give the commission an opportunity to improve their abilities.

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It was not until 2022 that the federal government increased the budget for NIMC. Before 2022, the commission’s budget was between 400 and 500 million naira, which was largely spent on recurrent expenditure rather than upgrading its systems to meet the new registration mandate for all Nigerians. aged under 18.

Due to insufficient financial resources, the commission has intermittently removed tools from workers protesting lack of payment or insufficient pay.

In 2022, the government increased the commission’s budget to N5 billion to enable NIMC to meet its needs and mandate in line with the current reality of the sector.

For Nigerians seeking to obtain new or renewed passports, the situation is also aggravated by the continued shortage of passports in Nigeria.

In Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, many applicants have been waiting for months for their passports, which they had applied for, paid for and had also been registered in the database, but cannot get their passports because the booklets are rare.

Some people have missed opportunities such as scholarships, studies, medical examinations, childbirth, business engagements and investment opportunities, while waiting to get their passports.

BusinessDay found that passports are currently in short supply as the government owes its technical partners overseas huge debts amounting to millions of dollars

The Home Office has entered into a public-private partnership agreement with an overseas company, Irish Technologies, which produces the enhanced e-passport, but has refused to supply the product due to alleged huge debts.

BusinessDay, on a recent visit to Ikoyi passport office, the busiest passport office in Lagos, observed a long line of angry and worried applicants waiting to get their passports.