Yemi Osinbajo

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said that the federal government will spend about $3.1billion in order to give Nigeria a world class identity management infrastructure.

Osinbajo, whose office is coordinating the development of a strategic roadmap for digital identity in the country stated this in Abuja yesterday at the Workshop on a Roadmap for Digital Identity Ecosystem in Nigeria organised by the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

He said digital infrastructure will be pivotal to the security and socio-economic transformation of the country as well as producing a robust action plans to shape the implementation of the presidential directive for the alignment of all biometric identity databases in the country.

The Vice President who was represented by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on ICT, Mr. Lanre Osibona, noted that the identity management infrastructure will provide a credible platform for all identity utilisation agencies in the country such as the Federal Road Safety Commission, Independent National Electoral Commission, the banking community and security community to leverage on for adequate, effective and efficient identity and information on Nigerians and foreigners living in the country

While unveiling the document developed by the World Bank with inputs from the NIMC, Harmonisation & Integration Committee and other stakeholders, he said Nigerian government has spent over one billion dollars in the past on fashioning a unique identity system but to no avail.

National Identity idea, he said was conceived in 1977 but it was in 2003 after series of failed attempts that the Directorate of National Civil Registration was established, while the National Identity Management Commission was set upin2007 to create and manage a database for the country.

According to Osinbajo, the Buhari administration so desirous of giving Nigeria a credible identity database gave a presidential directive under the watch of the office of the Vice President to re-order the citizenship identity for global organisations like the World Bank to take the country serious.

He said on government insistence, NIMC put together a team saddled with the responsibility of giving the country an acceptable identity, adding that ‘a roundtable meeting on developing a Strategic Roadmap for Identity Ecosystem in Nigeria and leveraging digital identity to develop and transform was held on February 8, 2016 at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.

He added: “The focus of the ecosystem approach is to ensure every individual in Nigeria is given a unique identity within the next 3 – 5 years.”

The roadmap, he said is a technological platform for inclusion and digital governance considering the fact that “millions of Nigerians do not have access to basic means of identification”.

Earlier, the Director General/ Chief Executive Officer of the NIMC Engr. Aliyu Aziz, said the purpose of the workshop was to ensure that the policies developed is articulated and refined in such a way that government agencies must work together; collaborate with each other, share infrastructure and government investment to serve their customers who are potentially the same citizens and residents

To achieve the objectives of the Presidential directives, Aziz said several stakeholder meetings were held under the auspices of the Harmonisation & Integration Committee, made up of about 25 government agencies, and high level support from the Office of the Vice President through the SSA-ICT to the President – who was present at all our meetings in the past year.

He said the draft Strategic roadmap has been reviewed by the Harmonisation & Integration Committee and it was decided that the document be exposed to an expanded audience cutting across different sectors of the economy so as to get the document more enriched with inputs, feedbacks and comments.

Benefits of a credible national database of unique identities according to him include; enhancement of law enforcement work, accessibility to consumer credit, ensuring financial inclusion, reduction in cost of governance and citizens’ service delivery, achievement of multi-pronged approach to the fight against corruption and introduction of social security or welfare payments.

“If we are to gain all these benefits, then, we must first and foremost, establish, populate a credible National ID Database and provide secured, authorised access for verification of the identities of individuals.” he said

“At the end of today, we expect to have a document that is ready for finalisation and submission to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval and subsequent implementation”, he said.

Also speaking, the World Bank Country Director, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud, said a robust and unique identification system is central to socio-economic development and bench-marking of development process of any nation as it provides information on vulnerable group like women, children and persons with disability.

An updated identification system, Benmessaoud said, help development agencies across the globe to identify, assist and monitor countries and persons in need of social services assistance in the areas of health, education, financial inclusion, migration and travel, voting, social safety and women empowerment..

He said: “Globally, identification system for development was conceived for development analysis by the World Bank group for development analysis in developing countries like India and Peru and found the need to replicate the development projects in the African region.

“The World Bank group focus in West Africa a functional identification system and proposed for Nigeria a system that will be in line with global identification system, hence the World Bank commitment to the development of the roadmap because there is need to work together in an ecosystem to achieve a common objective.”

He said the implementation activities will include; strengthening the legal and regulatory framework; building a robust foundation system and ensuring access to services for people.