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Nigerians Begin Registration For National ID Card - 2003-02-18

In Nigeria, the national identity card project got underway Tuesday after being delayed several times. An estimated 60-million citizens, ages 18 and above, will be issued the ID cards. The project has been plagued by controversy and mismanagement since its inception about 25 years ago. The department of National Civic Registration is in charge of the project. It has deployed more than 200 thousand officials 60 thousand centers across the country. Over the next two weeks, they will gather vital personal information for identification and planning purposes.

When the project was first attempted in the late 1970's, it became the victim of mismanagement. Public officials squandered money and allowed imported registration equipment to rot in warehouses.

Also northern interest groups had criticized the project, claiming it was an attempt for the south to gain advantage over the north.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was behind the original plan in the 70's when he was a military ruler, has reassured Nigerians that the ID cards will not be used for political purposes.

English to Africa reporter Paul Okolo has more on the story from Lagos.