The Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, has stressed that for Nigeria to enhance governance, help its people out of poverty, restore growth, and participate in the digital economy, “we need a unique digital identification platform that is linked to functional ID registries for accessing services.”
Speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa at the recently concluded fifth yearly meeting of the Identity for Africa (ID4Africa) Movement, he revealed to international participants that “Nigeria is executing a digital identity ecosystem project endorsed in September 2018, by the Federal Executive Council, the highest decision-making organ of government”.
In his lead presentation titled; ‘Digital Identity the Cornerstone to Effective Service Delivery,’ Aziz noted that “The 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”.
Aziz averred that “The ecosystem approach of enrolment will constitute trusted partners, and a pay-per-play model for successful enrolments,” Aziz said, adding “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.”
Explaining further, he noted that “Key unique and beneficial features of the digital ID to 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 organizations”.
“NIMC facilitates collecting identity data (biometric and demographic data); partners collect data and are paid per successful enrolment, and NIMC stores data and uses same to offer a Unique ID.
He further revealed that the number of stakeholders, government agencies and partners hooking on to the ecosystem approach include the National Population Commission (NPC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
Others include the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM).
As part of the Federal Government’s efforts at deepening digital inclusion of Nigerians, NIMC boss recalled that on January 1, 2019, government 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, and purchase of insurance policies.
Others are transactions with social security implications, all land related transactions, transactions specified under the contributory health insurance scheme, payment of taxes, transactions pertaining to pension, admission into schools and all other relevant government services.
He said “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.”
While arguing that “there is a strong correlation between identification and service delivery,” he noted that their closeness “is central in the effective delivery of important services to the people by the Federal Government.”
Whereas he was silent on why his agency cannot give out national ID card, he listed benefits of the digital ID which for now remains NIN slip, saying the extent of coverage nationwide is reducing cost in data collection, speed-up delivery, and provide digital verification of ID anytime and anywhere in Nigeria.
NIMC boss told participants that “This is just as a well-developed digital identification programme will help deliver the government’s development agenda, and provide for key government services, such as safety net, financial inclusion, security and agriculture”.