The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) may have kick started its duty by ensuring that Nigeria has a credible and reliable data bank for the country, but the commission is faced with challenges ranging from issues of multiple head counts, giving of false information by citizens and corrupt practices leveled against its officials among others.
In this interview With RICHARD UDOFIA, the Director General, Mr. Chris Onyemenam, highlights what the future holds for the agency and its activities.
There is news making the rounds that this registration may be completed by December this year. Is it achievable?
No, I have not even specified a given date. What I meant was that December will serve as an evaluation unit or point to reassess our objectives as a commission. There is a Presidential directive, and as you know there is a policy statement too, and we are all bound by it.
The Presidential directive is to the effect that all federal agencies that are involved in data capture services which also have identity authentication verification which should align with their activity and infrastructure with a view to switching over to NIMC infrastructure.
The objective of this directive in my opinion follows three folds. First, to optimize the use of cash resources at this level, as it is dedicated to identity management. Secondly, ensure that as a result of that, (optimizing use of cash) there is no duplication of efforts that we can quickly establish a National Identity data base which is a single version of truth on personal information of Nigerians.
Now the value proposition which we cannot talk about because whether in terms of security or not, we use financial services or deepening access at reducing dependence on cash which means that cashless economy in terms of providing subsidies to those who actually need it.
To be honest, do people actually need it as making safety a priority? Simply put in actual respect, this process allows for a single version of truth of every single information of individuals.
How will the issuance of this card help in curbing fraud in the financial sector?
There are at least three biometric features in the card. First is the hybrid nature of the card. Second, is the incorporation of Phiser with metal recognition, while the third is the use of finger prints. It is extremely difficult for anyone to use these cards in isolation.
The smart card has a public infrastructure built into it with inscription methodology combined as well. This ensures that you cannot put your card beside any of your smart Phones, the data will be taken out. You cannot abuse the card issued as they cannot be hacked into either, because we have taken time to build a public infrastructure around it, and ensure that it meets global best practice.
The card is 100% poly carbonated. It has 18 security features aside the 19th one which is a complex feature on the chip. The chip is an 80kbyte chip different from all the ATM cards you see.
Your normal ATM card, if you misplace one today, they ask for the number and then make sure is no longer possible for you to use it, then they give you another one.
Those are not the type we are talking about, I am talking of a card that if you want to manufacture one, you have to come and take permission from the commission before you can produce it anywhere in the world. The features of this card are recognized globally in the world base on global practice, by institutions whose jobs, it is to recognize them.
One major problem of Nigeria’s identity process is that Non-Nigerians sneak into the country without valid identification, how can this identity process checkmate that trend?
There is need for us to understand that when we were in school, we read about democracy, and we all know that the main fulcrum of democracy is freedom of movement, association, leadership among others. We are aware that our borders are porous, while fraudsters, in the course of committing crimes give out wrong data since its mandatory for anybody resident in the country to register.
We have a responsibility as a commission to guarantee the identity of data, and not to add problems to the commission. In ensuring this, what we have done is to ensure that we follow what the law says and steak to it, which is exactly what we are doing.
As a body, we know that some of those gaps that help non Nigerians adapt to undermine our society and perpetuate evil. So long the identity can be ascertained, what we have, as a system is to still cross check again when the need arises.
It will be easy to detect anybody claiming what he says he is, and what he is not when the task is fully met. At the commission, what we have done can be categorized into three.
First, we have a sense of verification that you can come up with, like birth certificates, international card, registration cards, drivers license, national ID cards, among others to evident that you are a Nigerian.
Once you know that there are traditions of the land, and where these people are from, it tends to settle the first phase of identification of true citizens and non citizens. The Nigeria immigration, customs, have deployed officers in each of our offices, to help us acquire training to disclose non- Nigerians.
They also help us in screening people who have come forward with legitimate business and legal residence.
How many people have you enrolled?
We only started around October, for now we have about 3 million, and the number is increasing by the day. It is increasing by the day as more people are getting aware of the identification process.This is a national scheme, so the entire country is expected to be covered.
For rural penetration, I want to state here that the same process is taking place in the creeks as well, because we need their data as citizens. We have apps whose devices are capable of capturing and sending information to the central unit for swift decision making.
What does the future hold for the organization?
When it is time, our long term plans will be made available to the public, but for now, we are working tooth and nail to having a credible data bank for the nation just like other developed nations of the world.