By Emma Okonji
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has expressed concern that the national identity programme may not succeed unless there is strong political commitment on the part of government backed by adequate funding.
The Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, who was recently reappointed for a second tenure of four years, raised the concern while speaking at the 6th General Assembly of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council (NTRC), which held recently at the Arewa House, Kaduna.
According to Aziz, “Like any government reform, political will and strong leadership are required to implement the national identity project.”
In his paper titled: Importance of National Identity to Nation Building, Aziz said, “without strong political leadership and commitment, financial resources and stakeholder collaboration, the national identity programme will not be successful and sustained, despite the success recorded in the past four years.”
He, therefore, called on traditional rulers to show their support and fatherly advice, and find a way around of telling the federal government fo pay particular attention to the country’s National Identity Management programme to ensure that is is adequately funded.
Aziz, informed the gathering that all modern economic services were done digitally and rely on good identification to promote economic growth and opportunities.
“For Nigeria to enhance governance, help its people rise out of poverty, restore growth and participate in the digital economy, we need a unique digital identification platform that is linked to functional identity registries for accessing services,” the NIMC boss stated.
While explaining the importance of national identity to Nigeria’s existence and growth, he said:
“There is a strong correlation between inclusive identification and nation building and this is central in effective delivery of important services to the people.
“Proving ‘who is who’ is critical to accessing services physically and electronically including identifying the targeted beneficiaries of a programme, project or scheme.”
According to him, a robust digital identity for Nigeria would lead to access to finance, gender equality and empowerment, access to basic health and educational services as well as child protection.
He listed other benefits include migration and labour market opportunities, reduction in the cost of governance, better government service delivery and improvement in the enforcement of law and order thereby leading to improved security.
While bemoaning challenges the NIMC was facing in executing the national identity project, which includes poor funding, inadequate mobilisation and limited awareness, among others.
Aziz appealed to the royal fathers to help with awareness and mobilisation as well as assisting their subjects with source documents to enable them enrol for the National Identification Number (NIN).
He reminded them of some of the government or social services for which the NIN must be presented and verified, to include application and issuance of passport, opening of bank accounts, purchase of insurance policies, all land related transactions, payment of taxes, admission into schools, voter registration, pension transactions and all relevant government services.
Although the NIMC has recorded some notable successes in the last four years, since Aziz was first appointed as the Director-General of NIMC, he, however, warned that such successes could be eroded within few months, if adequate attention was not given to national identity registration in the country, through adequate funding.