The House of Representatives has directed the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and other government agencies to stop using the possession of the national identity card as a precondition for awarding scholarships.
The directive followed adoption of a motion under matters of urgent public importance moved by Ben Igbakpa (PDP, Delta) on Wednesday during plenary.
Igbakpa in leading the debate on the motion stated that the registration process of the national identity card is slow, burdensome and constraining, which is ordinarily not supposed to be and people seeking these scholarships should not pay the price for the procedural failure of government agencies.
He noted that the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had to also suspend the same requirement for its examination process as is practical considering the prevailing conditions.
According to him, there are other forms of identification and data management such as the BVN or Driver’s license that can serve the same purpose if the need arises and called on the Federal government to also ensure more Nigerians are duly registered in the national identity scheme.
Speaking in support of the motion, Ahmadu Jaha (APC, Borno) stated that since most Nigerians have not been captured in the scheme, it is unfair to use it as a precondition for Nigerians enjoying the benefits and privileges from Nigerian agencies.
Jaha also decried the porous manner in which the identification scheme is being done where people who come in through the porous borders can begin the process of getting the identification cards which is also a security risk.
Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Deputy Chief Whip making amendment to the prayers of the motion called for an investigation into why people are not getting their identity cards, even when they make themselves available for registration and also called for a timeline for the process to be more effective than it is now.
Also, Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Minority Leader stated that any nation without a strict citizen identity management system is a recipe for disaster and called for an investigation into why the identity management scheme is not working optimally even when the required resources, means and funds are available.
He also called on the appropriate House committee to handle the investigation and report back to the House within 2 weeks for further legislative action while the relevant agency should ensure that all such candidates are duly registered so that they can fulfill the requirements of their scholarship grant.
Ruling after several contributions, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila wondered if a Nigerian can be allowed to pursue the scholarship process without the identity card, or there should be a means of ensuring that those awarded the scholarships are truly Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila also stated that if it was the fault of the citizens not to be duly registered, they could be denied the scholarships, but if it is the fault of the process surrounding the issuing agency, the individuals seeking the scholarships should not be made to suffer unduly.
James Kwen, Abuja