By Emma Okonji
Efforts by the federal government to create a single database for Nigeria have started yielding results, as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) said weekend that it has begun the process of harmonisation of existing data that were hitherto scattered around different government agencies.
Prior to now, government agencies spend huge sums of money processing data of the same set of Nigerians, because it lacked the ability to harmonise the data into a single database, where Nigerians could source information from, as it is done in other regions of the world.
The NIMC said, the harmonisation process, when completed, would help Nigeria in creating a single database for the country, from where information about people, organisation and statistics could be sourced on request.
The Director-General/Chief Executive of the Commission, Aliyu Aziz, who made the pledge in Abuja, weekend, said, already,the NIMC has commenced the harmonisation of data on Bank Verification Number (BVN) that was carried out by banks, and thereafter, would begin the data harmonisation of SIM cards that was carried out by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the telecoms companies.
“We have commenced harmonisation with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) on the Bank Verification Number (BVN) records, so any one that has registered for the BVN will get their National Identity Number (NIN). So far we have processed two million records from the BVN data collected,” Aziz said.
He added: “The NCC has also agreed to release data from the ongoing Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards registration exercise to the Commission, all these are in line with the federal government’s directive to sister agencies collecting biometrics to harmonise and integrate with the NIMC being the central repository of biometric data in Nigeria.”
By 2019, it is projected that NIMC should have over a hundred million unique record at the central database. At that time, we would have commenced the enforcement of the mandatory use of the NIN for all services and transactions requiring the authentication and verification to confirm individual’s identity. At that time also, whoever did not enroll and the person is above 18 years of age, will be required to pay a token in order to get enrolled for the NIN, Aziz further said.
Nigerians had insisted that developing a single database for Nigeria, where information about every Nigerian and organisation doing business in Nigeria, is captured and stored, would help reduce crime rates in the country, as criminals and serial law breakers could be identified, traced and tracked, using stored information from the database.
Addressing the issues of national identity cards being handled by NIMC, Aziz said NIMC has enrolled over eleven million unique data into the National Identity Database (NIDB), and that the Commission has also printed about a million National e-ID Cards, and have issued over four hundred thousand of these Cards to their owners. The remaining unissued cards are still in the offices of NIMC in different states, Aziz added.
He said “there are ongoing plans to outsource the personalising and printing of the National e-ID Card to private printing bureaus, so that we can clear the backlog of the unprinted cards and issue them to their owners before long.”
Although the Commission is recently facing funding challenges which seems to be slowing down its planned activities and timeliness, this is not peculiar to the Commission as the country is currently undergoing economic restructuring, and scarcity of funds, as such, allocations are not readily made available to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including NIMC. This is a temporary interruption that will soon be over, as government is geared towards reinvigorating the funding mechanism for the Commission, Aziz said.