June 17, 2009

Nigerians embrace National ID infrastructure upgrade

Nigerians across all ages, creeds,    groups and both sexes have   wholeheartedly embraced the on-going national ID infrastructure upgrade being implemented by the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC.

Reports by consortia of firms led by Unilag Consult that conducted a nationwide Privacy Impact Assessment study on how the programme may impact on privacy issues showed that over 90 per cent of Nigerians welcome the project and are ready to participate in it.

The study which included a survey that was conducted along the six geographical zones in 12 respondent age groupings shows that North Central recorded the highest degree of willingness at 99.7 per cent, with North-West zone recording the lowest at 79.2 per cent. National average stands at 90.8 per cent.

The report also noted that 83.4 per cent of respondents have no fears whatsoever of any infringement on their privacy, which is usually the most burning issue for national identity management programmes all over the world. The group also evaluated existing laws, practices and procedures involved in personal information management in Nigeria and how they impact the privacy of the individual and the full report is expected to provide the authorities with the basis for the development of a privacy policy to guide the Commission in the discharge of all its functions.

The upgrade of the national identity management system is aimed at providing a dependable offline, online, real-time and seamless system of identifying persons – Nigerians and foreigners – in a secure and reliable manner anywhere in Nigeria for any form of transaction or dealings in both public and private sectors. It will also help fight crime as it will check identity related fraud, a present bane of the Nigerian society.

Equally, the system upgrade will help reduce the cost of doing business as the present multiple identity verification systems, prerequisite to doing business at all public and private transaction points will no longer be necessary as all will be able to access the national database at all times.

It will be recalled that late last year, NIMC commissioned the consortia to undertake a Privacy Impact Assessment, PIA study of the national identity management system infrastructure project. The study was primarily aimed at determining and ultimately dealing with all the privacy issues that may result from the ongoing implementation of the identity management system for Nigeria.