• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

Digital ineptness rocks NYSC registration, participation

Despite measures put in place by the management of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) to checkmate cheating, findings have proved otherwise, as candidates can participate in the service twice due to the ineptitude of the tech system.

According to the Daily Nigerian media report, Umar Audu, a staff who, via undercover, obtained a degree in Cotonou through certificate racketeers and obtained double registration and participation.

“When the NYSC opened its portal for 2023 Batch B registration in June, this reporter was afraid that the system would reject him outright as he had genuinely participated in the scheme in the past.

But soon after he began the screening, his fear was allayed as NYSC seemingly lacked a digital tool to flag attempts to participate in the scheme twice or more.

The only initial obstacle he had was inputting the email and phone number he used during his genuine NYSC registration. A message popped up saying, “This email and phone number have already been registered.” Our reporter then immediately switched to his alternative phone number and email.

He therefore created a new profile and uploaded all the required documents, including fingerprints.”

Audu then proceeded to the next stage, the physical verification of documents. The NYSC verification exercise usually comes in two stages: physical and online evaluation.

“On July 3, while registration was going on smoothly for students who obtained certificates from less questionable foreign institutions, those from the Benin Republic and Togo were subjected to a more thorough screening exercise,” Audu said.

At that stage, he further explained that the NYSC officials rejected his evidence of Cotonou residency. Still, after months of back-and-forth, he was eventually linked with an immigration official who facilitated stamping his passport to show evidence of multiple entry and exit from Seme Border between 2018 and 2022.

A BusinessDay finding from a local government inspector (LGI) attached to the NYSC unit in Apapa-Lagos indicates that the possibilities of double registration and service are minimal due to the introduction of the thump print exercise.

An LGI staff told BusinessDay, “There is a demobilisation process whereby candidates are allowed to re-register after service, but such a person would have written to notify the management.

People can’t register and serve more than once now because of the introduction of a weekly thump print exercise.”

Another staff while responding to the question on the authentication of the verification exercise, another staff said that some years ago, the thump print verification exercise was a skeletal exercise that was done once a month and did not hold much meaning to the corps and the management.

However, a corp member serving in Abia State who gave his name only as Oluwaseyi informed our reporter that he did thump printing just once and that was necessitated by his bank documentation.

“The only time we did thump print was during registration, and that’s just once. And was for the banking details because they opened accounts for us,” he said.

The imperatives of digital tools and skills in public governance cannot be overemphasised, especially in Nigeria, where the lack of digital tools and skills is causing much havoc.

Okoye Nonso Sunday and his team of researchers, in their study ‘Addressing digital technology gap challenges: The Nigerian experience’, said, “Global technology evolution, no doubt, has exposed Nigeria’s deficiency in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure development.

While developed countries are developing new technologies that will drive the digital age, Nigeria and other developing countries are trying to catch up due to lack of adequate ICT infrastructure.”

The lack of digital tools such as thump print and facial scanners, among others, made it possible for Audu to manipulate his NYSC registration and had double participation under the nose of the management.

“When the NYSC opened its portal for 2023 Batch B registration in June, this reporter was afraid that the system would reject him outright as he had genuinely participated in the scheme in the past.

But soon after he began the screening, his fear was allayed as NYSC seemingly lacked a digital tool to flag attempts to participate in the scheme twice or more,” Daily Nigerian stated.

By creating a new profile, new email, and phone number, he could upload all the required documents, including fingerprints, without being dictated.