Acquiring an ID Card is Your Right and Not a Favour [opinion]

The ID card is an inalienable right enshrined in the constitution. This entitlement can only be denied, suspended or confiscated in accordance with the law.

If for example denial of an ID card subjects the citizen to indignity and robs him or her of self-hood, then, consequently that limitation is unreasonable and not justifiable in an open democratic society.

At the macro-level, the government should treat registration of citizens through acquisition of IDs as an imperative process for obtaining vital statistics that subsequently informs planning, budgeting and fiscal policies such as taxation and public expenditure.

Equally, the right to an ID or other documents of registration affects the enjoyment of the right to vote and be voted for as provided. Viewed against this background, the right to an ID can neither be over emphasised nor gainsaid.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of youths complete ordinary levels of education. By the time the students complete fourth form, most of them are at least 18 years of age, meaning that they are eligible to be issued with ID.

The importance of an ID is public knowledge. They are required internally by the police for security identification. Young people seeking employment are required to produce copies of IDs. The cards are also needed when seeking bank loans or for access to the Youth Enterprise Fund, among other economic engagements.

For one to acquire a passport, the ID is part of the documents required. Further, for the youth to register as voters, they are required to produce IDs.

Despite all this, over the years, the government has not bothered to ease the issuance of IDs to the youth graduating from schools or upon attainment of 18 years of age.

This reluctance simply renders the government’s claims of making efforts to assist the youths get employment sound merely rhetorical. For how can the youth succeed in seeking government loans or jobs without presenting an ID?

Whenever an assessment is carried out in the country to verify the number of youth without IDs, it is always the case that the statistics of those without IDs is far greater than those with the document.

Sadly, this has been the case for many years, yet the government has the constitutional and legal duty to ensure that civil registration is carried out throughout the year.

Besides, there is a full-fledged department of civil registration that deals with issuance of IDs, among other documents. One wonders then why the department finds it hard to register and issue eligible youths with IDs without discrimination, either along gender, ethnic or political lines.

Indeed, the fact that the government lacks complete statistics on youth eligible to acquire IDs means that it cannot plan well and meaningfully for youth development and welfare.

Clearly, according to the applicable laws of Kenya, it is the duty of the government of the day to issue the youth with IDs promptly.

This mandate of the government should not be taken as a favour to the youth. Equally, the issuance of IDs to the youth should neither be politicised nor used for political purposes.

Consequently and correspondingly, it is indeed high time our youth mobilised and demanded prompt issuance of ID cards without discrimination.

Discrimination on any or all grounds is outlawed under Article 27 of the 2010 constitution.

The writer is a management consultant based in Nairobi.