FEC Approves Implementation of Roadmap for Digital Identity

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Aliyu Abubakar Aziz

Emma Okonji

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the immediate commencement of the implementation of a strategic roadmap for a new digital identity ecosystem in Nigeria.

FEC at its weekly meeting held last week and chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, opened a new chapter in giving Nigeria a credible and robust identity management system with the approval of the new identity ecosystem strategy for the enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB).

The FEC approval of the new digital identity ecosystem will bring into full force the implementation of the provisions of the NIMC Act 23, 2007, which include the enforcement of the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN) and the application of appropriate sanctions and penalties on defaulters as provided under Section 28 of the NIMC Act.

The new digital identity ecosystem is a framework that leverages on the existing capabilities and infrastructure of distinct government agencies and private sector organisations to carry out enrolment of citizens and legal residents nationwide as well as issuance of digital identity, known as the NIN.

Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, explained that the step was in line with the federal government’s efforts to reposition the country as a leader in the global economy, which resulted in the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in April 2017.

A major outcome of the FEC’s approval of the strategic roadmap for the new digital identity ecosystem is the mandatory enforcement of the use of NIN, which NIMC has announced to come into full force on January 1, 2019.
The NIMC boss said identification was fundamental to the federal government achieving its new policy for the overall economic development of the country, but regretted that many Nigerians lacked basic identification documents despite significant government efforts over the years.

Explaining the powers of NIMC, under its Act, Aziz said: “NIMC is empowered to ensure strict compliance with the NIN requirement and can demand evidence of compliance from a person or entity; caution a non-compliant person or entity in writing; sanction a non-compliant person or entity by the imposition of administrative fines or institute criminal or civil actions against the non-complaint person or entity.”

Aziz reminded all agencies of government and the private sector, who are directly or indirectly into the business of data capture, that cut-off date for data eligible for harmonisation with the National Identity Database (NIDB) is 1st of December 2018. He said only data captured as at 30th November 2018 will be subjected to harmonisation as is currently on-going, and that fresh data capture of persons shall be in compliance with the provisions set out in the Nigeria Biometric Standards; Mandatory use of the NIN Regulations 2017 and guidelines issued by the Commission.
Aziz expressed gratitude to President Buhari and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as well as members of the FEC, National Assembly (NASS), the World Bank, the French Development Agency, the European Union/EIB and members of the harmonisation committee, including industry stakeholders for their contributions towards the development of the roadmap.