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The National Registry should do better

The Government of Liberia wants the entire population to obtain national identification cards, including public service workers, but the National Identification Registry, the state agency responsible for the exercise clearly lacks the capacity to provide the service, leaving citizens queuing weeks or months for identification cards they cannot obtain.

Even more confusing, the government has made the card acquisition a pre-requisite to paying civil servants, and mobile phones users are being harassed to register. Yet, it takes applicants going for ID cards about two to three months to get served because National Registry’s system is down.

A National Payroll Clean-up Task Force has issued a circular here, warning that effective April 2021 public workers without national identification card issued by the National Identification Registry would not receive salary, but fails to address issue of delinquent services at the NIR.

It is important that government matches policy pronouncements with capacity to deliver or else, the desire results may not be achieved. Besides, a haphazard process creates inconveniences for the people it is intended for.

Given the current rush for identification cards and the NIR’s incapability to produce them, leaves room for serious compromise that could bring unforeseen and unintended consequences the nation may regret subsequently.

While we welcome issuance of proper national identification to all Liberians, the process should be properly supported both financially and technically. It makes no sense to announce policy that lacks proper planning.
We call on authorities at the National Identification Registry to get their acts together and serve the public accordingly. Forcing people, including students to obtain identification cards is not enough. The service must be efficient and available!

Even as of this editorial, Liberia lacks a synchronized Biometric System that would enhance easy access and save cost on national expenditure, according to the Governance Commission, a government think-tank.
As it is now, almost all services to the public, including passports, banks, university admissions, and mobile services, among others are being pre-conditioned on national identification cards.
We seem to be putting the cart before the horse, as a nation which has not helped in moving Liberia forward. Like President said, it’s time to recalibrate to ensure a better country.

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