By Ivan Kaahwa
In the illustrious land of Uganda, the benevolent overlords at NIRA bestow National Identity Cards upon their subjects without charge. My personal quest to get one occurred during the era of the late General Aronda Nyakairima, the then Minister for Internal Affairs.
Eager to fulfill my civic duty and be part of the grand ID parade, little did I know that this laminated piece of officialdom would later be the star of a melodramatic episode involving burglary and thievery. It was only when my precious ID bid farewell during a break-in that I truly grasped the complex long journey awaiting those attempting to replace it.
The saga includes a symphony of paperwork, a convoy of queues at service centers, and some middlemen trying to make a quick buck, all vying for a piece of the bureaucratic limelight. Frustration ensued when, despite filing a police report complete with a reference number, the simple act of replacing my ATM and SIM cards became an extremely unpleasant ordeal including paying a 52000/= fee in the bank and some fee for URA payment acknowledgement receipt. Apparently, telecommunication companies are multilingual, but they solely understand the dialect of the National ID. Alas, I found myself offline, caught in a digital purgatory/suffering.
NIN Trumps Traditional IDs; Let Service Providers Lead the Digital Revolution
To add a dash of irony, I discovered that NIRA graciously provides a temporary slip for those navigating the ID replacement circus. However, obtaining this golden ticket resembled an epic quest, involving encounters with haughty employees and a waiting period that would make a medieval pilgrimage seem swift. With the elusive slip in hand, I presented my case to the financial and telecommunication deities. To my dismay, they demanded a letter from the all-powerful manager of the NIRA branch in Wakiso.
Thus, my quest for a mere document transformed into a very unusual journey through time and space, complete with unnecessary expenditures on transportation. In the grand scheme of things, it took a whopping three months to replace my stolen ID and other valuables. This timeline, rivaling the gestation period of some exotic mammals, does raise an eyebrow or two.
But let’s delve into the pièce de résistance (the most important or remarkable feature) of bureaucratic absurdity – the expiration date on the ID. According to Section 69 (6) of the ROPA 2015, the expiration of an ID does not, by any cosmic logic, equate to the expiration of one’s citizenship. It’s almost as if the ID card undergoes a magical transformation, shedding its expired skin to reveal a renewed, citizenship-affirming core.
However, in a twist that could be scripted by the surrealists, the renewal process is unveiled, replete with its own theatrical announcements. If you fail to apply for renewal two months before the expiration date, you might find yourself in a financial purgatory, liable to pay a daily fee of 40,000/= that could fund a small-scale fireworks display.
And here’s the grand finale – upon receiving the shiny new ID, one is expected to surrender the expired relic to NIRA, as if it were an ancient talisman with mystical powers.In my humble, satirical reflection, I propose a revolution. Let’s transcend the antiquated concept of physical IDs and embrace the digital era. Why not use the omnipotent National Identification Number (NIN) as a digital key to unlock our bureaucratic destinies in order to access services?
Imagine a world where citizens need not cart around a treasure trove of documents. Let the NIN be the master key, effortlessly unlocking details like a magical incantation. No more fretting about bent, broken, misplaced or pilfered IDs; the NIN is our guardian in this digitized utopia.
In conclusion, dear government, let’s reevaluate this theatrical production of ID issuance. Streamline the process, make it as breezy as obtaining a passport, and spare your citizens the extremely unpleasant odyssey through paperwork and queues. We advocate for the adoption of NIN over traditional IDs, with the emphasis on service providers investing in technology to eliminate the need for laminated cards. After all, it’s 2024 – time to let go of the laminated relics and embrace the digital magic of the National Identification Number.
@IvanKaahwa via Twitter