Shock Value

Shock Value

The Nigerian economy, like any other, experiences “shocks”— events or policy decisions that can send a ripple of changes through the system. This column zooms in on these ripples in a range of sectors to explore how and why these shocks matter.

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Nigeria's ID (Cards) and Ego: II

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi is an avid reader seeking insights in unexpected places. Her research interests include economic development, political economy and trade.

This article is Part II of a series. Read Part I here

Nigeria's Golden Eaglets had 26 players removed last year, a day before they were to play a qualifying match for the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations. The reason? MRI scans suggested that the players were overage. Such accusations are not new; in this country, "football age" – the euphemism for age falsification – extends far beyond the football field. From job applicants circumventing age restrictions to public officials delaying retirement, in the absence of a national identification (ID) system, many Nigerians have chosen to misrepresent their age at some point in time. 

Although ID cards are the most visible aspect of an identity management system, the real value lies in the supporting database. The purpose of the National Identity Database (NIDB) is to assign each Nigerian a unique National Identity Number (NIN) that can be used for verification purposes throughout her lifetime. In an ideal system, children are assigned numbers at birth, and their records are updated as they become adults and begin to access public or financial services. When people die, their numbers go with them, and when people get married, their names change, but their numbers do not. 

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