National Identity: FG sets five-year target to provide identification for Nigerians

New National Identity card [photo credit: Encomium Magazine]

The Federal Government says it is determined to provide a lifelong unique identification for every individual physically residing in Nigeria and Nigerians in the diaspora within the next five years.

The Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, said this on Wednesday while speaking at the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Identity for Africa (ID4Africa) Movement holding in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to a release obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Aziz said: “for Nigeria to enhance governance, help its people rise out of poverty, restore growth and participate in the digital economy there will be a need for a unique digital identification platform that is linked to functional ID registries for accessing services.”

Addressing the over 1,500 delegates at the world’s largest identity for development gathering, Mr. Aziz said in order to function in the digital economy for sustainable growth, Nigeria is executing a digital identity ecosystem project endorsed in September 2018 by the Federal Executive Council.

Unveiling the grand plan by the government in his paper titled ‘Digital Identity, the Cornerstone to Effective Service Delivery’ , Mr Aziz said: “Strategic Roadmap Vision is to reach universal coverage of robust digital identification in Nigeria” by applying an ecosystem approach of enrolling citizens of all ages and legal residents within the set timeframe

“The ecosystem approach of enrolment will constitute trusted partners, and a pay-per-play model for successful enrolments

“The purpose of the ecosystem approach is to leverage existing capabilities and enrolment facilities of government agencies, partners and private sector operators in Nigeria, as opposed to building new ones.”

He also said the ecosystem approach leverages the capacity of all ID stakeholders in the ecosystem to reach full coverage of the target population.

Some unique and beneficial features of the digital ID ecosystem approach, according to Mr. Aziz, will include: Federal Government-led initiative to collect biometric data nationwide in one go; coordinated effort to avoid duplicating data collection at high cost and time; leverage existing ecosystem of government agencies (including federal, state, and LGAs) and Private sector organisations.

Others include: “NIMC facilitating the collection of identity data (biometric and demographic data) ; Partners collecting data will be paid per successful enrolment; NIMC stores data and uses the same to offer a Unique ID.”

He also named some of the stakeholders and partners in the ecosystem approach to include the National Population Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Central Bank of Nigeria, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Independent Electoral Commission and the Federal Road Safety Commission.

Others include the Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigerian Communications Commission, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, the Nigeria Police Force and the National Pension Commission.

Mr. Aziz said the federal government as at January 1 began the mandatory enforcement of the use of the National Identification Number (NIN) for such services like application for and issuance of passport, registration of voters, opening of bank accounts, all consumer credit transactions, purchase of insurance policies, transactions with social security implications, all land related transactions, transactions specified under the contributory health the insurance scheme, payment of taxes, transactions pertaining to pension, admission into schools and all other relevant government services.

“Proving ‘who is who’ in Nigeria is critical to accessing services physically and electronically as well as in identifying the targeted beneficiaries of a programme, project or scheme,

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“There is a strong correlation between identification and service delivery and this is central in the effective delivery of important services to the people by the Federal Government,” Mr. Aziz said

He also said there was no option for Nigeria than to embrace and implement digital identity as all modern economic services are done digitally and rely on good identification in order to promote economic growth and opportunities

Mr. Aziz said the benefits of the digital identity ecosystem approach is, among others, to scale up enrolment; extend coverage nationwide; reduce cost in data collection; speed-up delivery; provide digital verification of ID anytime and anywhere in Nigeria, just as a well-developed digital identification program will help deliver the government’s development agenda

He also said it would provide for key government services, such as safety net, financial inclusion, security, and agriculture.

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