‘Large Chunk of Nigeria’s Identity Data in Silos’

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Some industry stakeholders have expressed concern that a larger percentage of Nigeria’s identity data are still in silos with different federal government agencies.

They called on the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to speed up the process of integrating the country’s national identity data into a single database for easy academic research and for security reasons.

President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, told THISDAY that telecoms subscribers were becoming worried about providing the same personal information to agencies that are involved in identity registration like the BVN registration with banks; identity registration with NIMC; SIM registration with telecoms operators; vehicle and drivers licence registration with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC); voters registration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among others.

He, therefore, called on NIMC to speed up the integration process to enable governme
nts have accurate data of individuals, without the rigorous exercise for individuals submitting the same personal data for each registration exercise.

He stressed that the integration of databases in silos was as important as the linkage of NIN with SIM cards, which NIMC is trying to achieve.

The National Identity Management Commission Act of 2007, provides for the establishment of national identity database and mandated NIMC with the responsibility for maintenance of the national database, the registration of individuals, and the issuance of general multipurpose identity cards.

The NIMC Act in Article 5, mandated the Commission to create, manage, maintain and operate the national Identity database established under section 14 of the Act, including the harmonisation and integration of existing identification databases in government agencies and integrating them into a single national identity database.
Citing the NIMC Act and its mandates, Ogunbanjo said the Commission must rise to its challenge and ensure speedy integration of the country’s databases that are currently in silos.

In a recent interview, the Director General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, had assured Nigerians that NIMC was on course with the national identity registration exercise and that it had begun the gradual process of integrating the different databases into a single database.

A report on the strategic roadmap for developing digital identification in Nigeria that was approved by the federal government in 2017, clearly stated in its executive summary that in April 2017, the federal government issued the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) as its overall strategy to drive the country’s economic development. The report however said, despite the urgent need for a strategic roadmap, identification remained underdeveloped in Nigeria, as majority of Nigerians have no proper means of identification. It further stated that several government agencies both at federal and state levels, offer identity registration services, with each of them collecting the same biometric information from individuals, thereby overlapping efforts within government at a high fiscal cost.

The report therefore provided a strategic roadmap for developing national identification in Nigeria, some of which are already captured in the NIMC Act of 2007.

Section 27 of the NIMC Act, made NIN mandatory for all Nigerians and mandates all to present their NIN issued by NIMC for every transaction such as application for passport, opening of bank account, purchase of insurance policies, purchase and registration of land, all consumer credit transactions, registration of voters, payment of taxes and any other transaction which the Commission may so prescribe.

In Section 29 of the NIMC Act, it stated that any person who carries out or permits the carrying out of any transaction specified in Section 27, without the NIN, commits an offense that is punishable through fine or imprisonment or both.

The NIMC Act 2007 clearly stated all that Nigerians needed to do about registering and obtaining their NIN, but the processes had rather been too slow due to several reasons, which Ogunbajo said were not unconnected with ignorance on the part of Nigerians and lack of funds to push implementation at NIMC.