January 19, 2024

No Nigerian‘ll be denied right to verifiable ID – FG

FG considers new national identity card with payment, social service features

By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Federal government say no Nigerian irrespective of sex, age, location, residency, or physical status is denied the right to a verifiable ID.

It said this is so because a robust identity system serves as the cornerstone for building a more secure, sustainable, and prosperous Nigeria.

The Director General of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC,Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote stated this on Thursday at annual Consultation Workshop with Stakeholders organized by the ID4D in partnership with other partners in Abuja.

The DG said the government is aware that access to a reliable identity is not a privilege but a fundamental right and therefore would do everything possible to provide access to every Nigerian citizen and legal residents.

‘‘I bring to you warm greetings and blessings from the father of the Nation, President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces, Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is a passionate listener to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

‘‘The President has expressed worry over our fragmented identity system which is causing the country huge losses in expenditure and has given us marching orders to ensure we integrate and unify our identity system. To match words with action, the President on assumption of office as Commander-in-Chief signed the Nigeria Data Protection Bill now Nigeria Data Protection Act. This was to provide the needed legal framework for the protection and privacy of the data of Nigerians and legal residents.’’

The DG, who reiterated their earlier directive on free enrolment of citizens, insisted that NIN is free and for everyone. ‘‘At the NIMC, we frown at all forms of extortion and will ensure anyone found culpable of extorting any potential enrolee is made to bear the full weight of the law. Since my assumption of office as the DG of the NIMC, I have led several sting operations to enrolment and regional coordination centres across the country where some of our staff found extorting enrolees were handed over to law enforcement agents for prosecution.’’

Asides working to remove all impediments and barriers to enrolment for a national ID, Odusote said the Commission is working closely with the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development Project (NDID4) with support from World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), and European Investment Bank (EIB) in implementing series of sustainable and innovative reforms.

The goal, she said is to remove all current challenges and difficulties that people face in enrolling for IDs, fostering a robust, seamless, and more inclusive enrolment system where ID is provided for everyone, and no one is left behind.

She also reiterated the Commission’s commitment to addressing the challenges and barriers that vulnerable individuals and groups, including women, persons with disabilities, IDPs and refugees face in obtaining the NIN which is needed to facilitate their access to critical services necessary for their well-being.

‘‘The NIMC is fashioning ways to clear backlog of enrolment fees owed to enrolment partners and have also developed a robust business model to incentivise all partners particularly those who will be conducting enrolment in remote and hard to reach communities and locations.

As part of efforts to put Nigeria on the global map, the DG said plans were under way to amend the NIMC Act to ensure it is in consonance with the current digital realities to ease integration with other foundational ID agencies like the National Population Commission.

‘‘In the same vein, enrolment centres and registration points will be located close to communities to reduce travel costs and time, enhance access to ID and to encourage and prioritise enrollment for women, girls, and other vulnerable groups. This will also involve Mobile registration centres to bring the enrollment process closer to the people in the rural and hard-reach areas,’’ she added.

She urged the participants to join hands with the Commission in building a robust, sustainable, economically inclusive, and progressive Nigeria for all, it starts with one ID at a Time.

Earlier in his welcome address, the ECSU coordinator, DID4D, Solomon Odole, said the idea behind the workshop was to ensure that vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups were given visibility and adequately considered in the identity system.

‘‘This workshop is not just about professional development but also an opportunity to foster meaningful connections and build lasting relationships’’.

The workshop was aimed at fostering collective efforts among various stakeholders to foster a robust and inclusive foundational ID for every Nigerian and legal resident devoid of any form of discrimination or hinderance that ensures their access to services.

Participants at the workshop were: representatives of CSOs, Persons with disabilities, vulnerable and marginalized groups, relevant public institutions, international donor organizations, and funding partners