Few weeks ago, one of the articles I wrote and published on this column was titled “UI: Where Are The Identity Cards”? In that article, I mentioned that the cards have spent so much time in the production room than expected. The article talked about how final year students are at loss already and how irrelevant the identity cards may be to them once it is distributed. However, I was hopeful that if it isn’t so useful to final year students, at least others will enjoy it a little before they graduate. Well, it was about a week after the article was published that the University of Ibadan began to distribute the new identity cards to students. When I got information that the ID cards distribution process has started, at first I was excited, however, when I saw one of the cards, I was quite disappointed for I had developed a high expectation from the University management which was never met.

My expectation was based on the emphasis of the Management, especially at the Press conference which was held after the suspension of the Students’ Union after the students demanded for the identity cards they paid for, among other factors. The management emphasised that the non-issuance of identity cards for three semesters was due to the development in the offing. They made it known that the process of renewing identity cards will stop as just one card will serve the purpose of identification throughout a student’s stay in the University.

They convinced those at the Press conference that the new identity cards will carry other details needed for students to use for medical transactions, library transactions, among others. Unfortunately, the distributed cards have nothing related to medical number on them. It has no library information and it has even acknowledged the presence of a new department as against what we have on ground (take a look at the picture used).
In total there are three differences between the old and new identity card. First is the Level of study. What we now have is “Level=200-400”, as against “Level=200”. Second is the session, as we now have “2016/17 – 2017/18” as against “2014/15”. The third is in the additional statement written in yellow, behind the card. The statement reads “To test the validity of this card, please log on to www.mis.ui.edu.ng”. Dear reader, it will interest you to note that I visited the site and made attempt to validate one of the new cards, unfortunately, the system informed me that the card “does not exist”. Please visit the site and check yours too. Apparently, several things are wrong about this card, starting from the price of its production, to what we have in distribution, an explanation is really needed.

It was due to the need to get more information on the state of things as regards the identity cards that I had an online conversation with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka. I requested for explanation on the minute change in the identity cards which was against what students had been told to expect and I also demanded for clarification on the validity of the cards on the Management Information System website which referred all cards as not existing. The Vice Chancellor, after reading my message, gave his response based on what he said he got from the Information Technology Management System Unit (ITeMS). The response goes thus:

“The new ID card does not have visible chip like ATM cards. It uses embedded chip based on MIFARE technology. The hidden chip is not as susceptible to damages as those visible.

The integration of health and other services is another phase of the deployment which is already advertised – invitation to Tender 27/11/2017. We are looking at the verification site. Any hitch will be addressed promptly sir.”

From the explanation above, we can assume that there is more to the card than the eye can see, based on the embedded chips therein. However, the explanation on the integration of health and other services brings forth a number of questions. How will it be integrated after the cards have been distributed? When will the phase be completed since the invitation to tender took place just some days ago? What is the purpose of validating the identity cards on the website since every student will have a copy of the card? These among several other questions need to be answered by the school management.

Truth be told, it is ridiculous that the identity cards took so long to be produced. The awarding of identity cards contract took place before the 5th of June 2017 and we are in the month of December. At least if the Vice Chancellor, just as he said, is “not a magician that will produce 30, 000 cards in a day”, he should at least be able to do that in six months. Now the identity cards have been distributed without all the information needed on them. This only shows that the University management needs to do better in its duties. No matter how much addition or change is to be added, six months is more than enough for such addition or change. But in the University of Ibadan, such is not the case.

Indeed, the school needs to give an explanation for the shortfall in expectation of students. If the request for identity cards could indirectly be one of the reasons why the Union was suspended, if the students can pay so much for just a card, if the production could be delayed for so long, then something quality should have justified all these. But the identity cards distributed so far is simply far from the corridors of justice for the several pains and delays for which innocent Uites have suffered. If the University of Ibadan is truly the first and best, then we must always set the standard even in the case of identity cards. We demand better explanation, whereas we wouldn’t mind an apology from the school management for this shortfall in relation to something we paid for.

See you next week. Till then, Stay Focused, Stay Conscious.

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