Akin Akande, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure that all eligible Nigerians are enrolled into the National Identity Database by December 31, 2014.
This, according to the President is in line with the provision of section 16 the Act No. 23, of 2007 of the commission.
Speaking at the lunch of the Enrollment Exercise for the Issuance of the National Identification Number (NIN) at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, on Thursday President Jonathan also directed that by the same date, all 14 government agencies requiring identity verification and authentication services or involved in data capture activities must align their activities with a view to switching over to the NIMC infrastructure.
“If the work of law enforcement officers is to be enhanced; if consumer credit is to be accessible; if we are to reduce the cost of managing the Naira cash component currently estimated at N192 billion per annum; if we are to reduce the amount of currency in circulation currently put at N1.93 trillion; if we are to achieve a multiple pronged approach to the fight against corruption; and finally, if we are to introduce social security or welfare payments, then we must, first and foremost, establish and verify appropriately, the identities of individuals,” the President stated.
He further noted: “There is a growing quest for specific databases and identity verification by several government institutions and private sector organizations in our country”
“Aside from being unwieldy, the cost of operating multiple discordant databases and infrastructure is unsustainable. Government cannot afford the continued proliferation of data capture activities.
“The proliferation does not grant any advantage in efficiency, neither does it make good economic sense.
“The growing identity verification needs, therefore calls for harmonization and integration of identity databases and the development of a universal service infrastructure,” he added.
President Jonathan, therefore, charged the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Finance, “ensure that these objectives, which are aimed at streamlining biometrically-linked databases and optimizing scarce resources, are accomplished on record time.”
He said while government remains committed to the accelerated development of the National Identity Management System (NIMS), the private sector must also rise up to its role.
The President added: “Corporate operators must seize the unique opportunities provided by the Concession Agreement, to make investments in the Scheme.
“Private sector participation would mean extended optimization of resources typically devoted to addressing issues of PROOF OF IDENTITY across the nation. It would also mean seamless integration and use of a common facility for identity verification and authentication, in both the public and private sectors”.
President Jonathan stressed that an ascendable and flexible system that provides for expansion and upgrading in line with technological advances, “is a necessary infrastructure that we must be equipped with, to meet our contemporary goals in building our Nation”.
The President also said: “The Management of NIMC must now drive this important project with all the seriousness it deserves. We must move deftly to discount time lost so far, for failure is not an option.
“I am aware of the challenges facing the Commission, especially in recent times, not least from public cynicism and unfavourable perception of the identity sector, stemming from the wasted efforts of the past.
“Today’s exercise unmistakably avows Government’s intention and reinforced determination to conclude all reforms in this sector by December 31, 2014.
“I believe that the Chairman of the Governing Board and the Management understand that today underlines a new orientation and the process must be sustained in timely tempo. If the slogan – ‘ENROL ONCE AND BE IDENTIFIED FOR LIFE’ is to be achieved, the process and progress must remain irreversible.
“I commend the Management and Staff of NIMC, for the articulation of this catch-phrase. I also commend you for clarifying the differences between the National Identification Number (NIN) and the National Identity Card, a multipurpose Card.
“Even though both card and number are important components of the National Identity Management System (NIMS) it is important that there’s continued education about their varied applications.
“I look forward to the scheduled formal launch/presentation of the National Identity Smart Card.
“I believe that the assets and experience of this exercise will advance the work of the National Population Commission, especially in its planned biometric Census which is scheduled for 2016.
The Minister of Interior, Abba Moro cleared the air on the confusion that other forms of registration will be suspended.
According to the minister: “There is a scepticism in this country, of the whole process of a National Identity card management system viz-a-viz the conduct of activities of some of the MDAs that you are talking about.
“The Nigerian Immigration service for instance does biometric recording of travellers and people who come into and out of Nigeria and keeps the records and maintains the data base.
“The Federal Road Safety commission certainly has registration exercise for drivers licensees, but the national identity management commission takes responsibility for the entirety of the registration of Nigerians and so there is no conflict in this situation.
“From what Mr. President has said and what the identity management commission will do is to coordinate and manage the entirety of all identification arrangement in the county. It is just like the Galaxy Back Bone, if you want to establish any digital arrangement certainly you must key in and align with the Galaxy Back Bone.
“And so today the President has given an instruction and order that all identity registration an management must align with the national identity management commission as a central management set up that will control all data regarding registration of individuals across the country”.
Also speaking, the DG of the NIMC, Barrister Chris Onyemenam, noted that the main identification is the NIN generated upon registration and is not transferable.
He noted further that the issued Identity Card has multiple uses and can be used for financial operations linked to MasterCard, Verve and Visa.
He noted that the new identification system would help to eliminate identity related fraud, and all forms of deception adding that by December 31st 2013, they would have mobilized for registration to strategic places like military formations, university campuses among others to fast track the enrollment.
Onyemenam said so far 500 systems had been deployed to 42 locations nationwide, while over 2000 staff had been engaged.
He said the commission records about 25,000 enrollments weekly in the 1,750 enrollment units in the 774 Local Government Areas.