By BEN AGANDE
ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan has issued ultimatum to the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, to register all Nigerians by the end of next year.
Launching the enrolment exercise for the issuance of the National Identification Number, NIN, yesterday, President Jonathan said the National Identification Number will go a long way in enhancing the work of security agencies in the country.
According to President Jonathan, “Nigeria cannot be an exception to the global trend towards Identity Management and Centralised National Identity Database, adding that there is already a growing quest for specific databases and identity verification by several government institutions and private sector organisations in our country.
“The growing identity verification needs, therefore calls for harmonization and integration of identity databases and development of a universal service infrastructure. To achieve this goal, the National Identity Management Commission should ensure that by December 31, 2014, all persons eligible for registration as provided for in Section 16 of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, Act No. 23, of 2007 are enrolled into the National Identity Database.
“By this same date, all government agencies requiring identity verification and authentication services or involved in data capture activities must align their activities with a view to switching over to the NIMC infrastructure.”
The President said “If the work of law enforcement officers is to be enhanced; if consumer credit is to be accessible; if we are to reduce cost of managing the Naira cash component currently estimated at N192billion per annum; if we are to reduce the amount of currency in circulation; if we are to achieve a multiple pronged approach to fight against corruption; and if we are to introduce social security, then we must, first and foremost, establish and verify appropriately, the identities of individuals.”
The President added: “An ascendable and flexible system that provides for expansion and upgrading in line with technological advances, is a necessary infrastructure that we must be equipped with, to meet our contemporary goals in building our Nation.
“The Management of NIMC must now drive this important project with all the seriousness it deserves. We must move deftly to discount time lost so far, for failure is not an option. I am aware of the challenges facing the Commission, especially in recent times, not least from public cynicism and unfavourable perception of the identity sector, stemming from the wasted efforts of the past.
“If the slogan – ‘Enrol Once And Be Identified For Life’ is to be achieved, the process and progress must remain irreversible. I commend the Management and Staff of NIMC, for the articulation of this catch-phrase. I also commend you for clarifying the differences between the National Identification Number, NIN, and the National Identity Card, a multipurpose Card.”
“Even though both card and number are important components of the National Identity Management System, NIMS, it is important that there’s continued education about their varied applications.”
The President expressed optimism that the assets and experience of the exercise will boost the work of the National Population Commission, NPC, towards the proposed 2016 biometric census.
He said: “As we recalibrate our efforts, we must avoid the pitfalls of the past, and stay focused on achieving results. This explains why I had set up a committee chaired by the Vice President, to fashion the modalities required to institute a central demographic database. The committee has recommended that the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, and the National Population Commission, NPC, despite their separate obligations, work more closely, to complement each other and help deliver urgently a comprehensive centralized national database.”
He tasked the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Finance to ensure the objectives of the initiative aimed at streamlining biometrically-linked databases and optimizing scarce resources are accomplished on record time.
The Minister of Interior, Abba Moro while speaking said “there is a misconception in this country on the whole process of National Identity card management system vis-a- vis conduct of activities of some of the MDAs that you are talking about.
“The Nigerian Immigration Service, for instance, does biometric recording of travellers and people who come into and out of Nigeria and keeps the records and maintains the data base. The Federal Road Safety Commission certainly has registration exercise for drivers license, but the national identity management commission takes responsibility for the entirety of the registration of Nigerians and so there is no conflict in this situation.”
“From what Mr. President has said and what the identity management commission will do is to coordinate and manage the entirety of all identification arrangement in the county. It is just like the Galaxy Backbone, if you want to establish any digital arrangement certainly you must key in and align with the Galaxy Backbone.”
“And so today the president has given an instruction and order that all identity registration and management must align with the national identity management commission as a central management set up that will control all data regarding registration of individuals across the country, ”he said.