Chris Steven, Abuja
Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC),Aliyu Aziz has said paucity of funds constitutes part of reasons why the agency has not been able to harmonise data of Nigerian.
He said beyond the recession which was plaguing the country, approximately N20billion would be required to effectively harmonise all relevant data in Nigeria.
He said this, while fielding questions from State House correspondents at a Policy Roundtable Meeting on Identity Management which held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa,Abuja.
“As at February 2015 when we worked out for all the agencies what would be required to do this,we found out that we would require close to N20billion to carry out full harmonisation.
“Of course you know that there is no budget and we are in recession, so we were asked to modify it and we picked only the major ones like Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), National Communications Commission(NCC).
“The BVN is ongoing because the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) paid for that to happen and we came down to N5billion that we needed to do the harmonization but still there is no budget.
“We are still trying to carry out the exercise but as you have noted,its very slow and we are trying to scale up. The BVN is already ongoing and we are trying to do the same with the sim registration from NCC. The next port of call is going to be INEC data. Those are the huge ones.
“As you have heard from the Immigration Comptroller General, the number of those with international passport is not that humongous and some of those with passport already have BVN. Also whenever we are harmonizing whenever there is a hit, it requires human intervention and more work on our part”.
While responding to a question on the President’s directive that by the next general election Nigerians should use harmonized ID card to vote,he said if the funding was available by next year, in the next 24 months the mandate of Mr. President could be met.
Aziz said the Commission has not overruled the possibility of sourcing funds externally,hence the stakeholders forum in Abuja.
“Funding challenges is part of why we are having this stakeholders forum to come up with business model which the World Bank has promised to assist that will also help us to be able to deliver on the basic things, then we will come up with the actual amount required to harmonise.
“For the donor agencies they want to see what is required, especially all the agencies working together before they can bring any fund.
“Other challenges for instance, we require people. As I said earlier, you require people should the system be hacked, so these people will have to be trained because we are working with data of individuals, so they have to take time to do it, they don’t have to rush so we won’t return to the same problem.
“So we need a lot of capacity building, the individual agencies will require a lot of assistance from world bank and others”.
On the lingering problem of Nigerians not getting their ID cards despite having registered,he said,”that is the question every Nigerian has been asking and as you can see from the World Bank report, that our identify life circle costs like $10 while that of India is less than $1.
“This is because we are issuing a general multipurpose card, it has a lot of appellate in it. Compared to ATM card that has only 4 kilobite the ID card has 80 kilobite, is like 20 times that of ATM card, so you can imagine the cost.
“Right now we have four million cards to be printed but the security was upgraded so we are trying to upgrade the system to the latest security because it is electronic”.