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Identity crisis: Who really are Nigerians?

Experts highlight nation’s identity management crisis at CTO 2010; challenge govt on central database

By Emmanuel Elebeke
Way back in 2001, a small group of ICT experts paid a visit to the former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in Aso Rock and right inside his cozy office, a little poser was presented to him to prove if he was a true Nigerian.

Photo by Biodun Ogunleye shows people at a public event in the Lagos area. Is anybody sure they are NIgerians, or Ghanaians, or Rwandans, or.....?

The former president weighed the option for a minute before giving answers. Not that the answers technically speaking, proved anything, but atleast nobody can deny the first citizen the right to be a citizen of the country he is ruling.

Incidentally the question was neither posed to ridicule the president nor to clear any doubt about the former president’s citizenship but it was presented as a test case to the dangers of not having a dependable central database system in a country.

Obviously if it could take the president some time to convince his visitors, of his citizenship, it wouldn’t be surprising if he approved that a central data system be put in place. But like everything Nigerian, all efforts the former president put in place to see that Nigeria has a dependable data system, budgets and other bureaucratic bottlenecks has not allowed Nigeria the opportunity.

Now the ability to give a hard knock to insecurity and identity problems facing the country at the moment, may determine how serious Nigeria is in pursuing the dreams of becoming one of the top twenty economies in the world by the year 2020. At least that was the least of the problems Managing Director of Charms Plc, Demola Aladekomo said must be tackled if the vision 2020 dream would not turn out a huge joke.

Aladekomo at the ongoing  2010 Computer, Technology and Office equipment exhibition narrated the earlier story to draw home the importance of a central data system in a country like Nigeria.

He said that Nigeria being one of the few importers of steel and other electronic gadgets, there was a great danger to the safety of the nation, going by the huge population, unless a central data system is put in place to ascertain the true identity of every citizen of the country.

He argued that Nigeria cannot talk about security without knowing who the citizens are. To him, until the issue is resolved and every citizen identified through a national data system, the nation’s security system and economy will continue to be threatened by the unidentified  150 million citizens within and outside the country.

Aladekomo who spoke on the topic: Building a World Class Security Network for Nigeria said because Nigeria lacks basic security backbone with deficient security personnel to tackle both internal and external security problems of the country, issues of impersonation, child trafficking, drug trafficking, financial transaction fraud, illegal immigration will still pose serious  threats to the country, and described impersonation as massive security concern. He then called for a local solution to check the trend, as according to him, the solution need to be sourced locally to suit the massive issues of security confronting the nation.

“Ïmpersonation is a massive concern. The solution need to be local to suit the massive issues of our local security problems. Foreign solutions can’t solve them,” he pointed out.

The Charms MD also said the nation’s law enforcement agencies had remained blind because they lack the skill and basic security training to detect fraud. Developing effective security network in Nigeria starts with the unique identification of citizens and the creation of citizens and creation of a net database. He described the 150 million Nigeria population as a calamity waiting to happen if nothing is done to identify their true identity.

Earlier in his presentation, the Director, Business Development, Science Applications International Corporation, Robert Langlois said CTO had been beneficial to both small and medium enterprises that brings speedy growth to the economy. He emphasized the importance of security in nation building and economic development, adding that uniting security and commerce is required for meaning development.

He reinstated the need for Nigeria to join hands in the fight against terrorism and other related crime, saying that no nation can progress in the presence of crime and terrorism. He also challenged the security agencies, especially those at the border posts to intensify efforts at finding out what comes into the country

Speeking on the topic “Our experience Managing Corporate Security in Nigeria”  the regional Certification representative, American Society for Industrial security, Dr. Ona Ekhomu said security has become part of decision making process that must be pursued with every seriousness for Nigeria to achieve safe society and economic growth.

To him, the future will be better when everybody join hands to fight national security, as according to him, money does not go where there is violence. While calling on the private sector to partner with government, Ekhumo said “Security is no longer for government alone, but everybody’s duty that must be fulfilled if we desire to have peaceful society and developed economy”.


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