Eng. Aliyu Aziz is the Director-general National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the CEO stated that, NIMC is mandated to carry out the registration of non-citizens of Nigerian who are lawfully resident in Nigeria and issue a general multi-purpose identity card to any person registered.
Most Nigerians don’t really know what the commission does that is different from the former National identity card agency, can you enlighten them?
We studied other Nations like US who give social security number to their citizen, England too gave National Insurance Number and in India, where they did something call Adhar in their language, which means foundation and they give them numbers. They don’t give them even a piece of paper because of their High population. In Nigeria, we did BVN where they scrapple a number and give you and you are able to use it.
So it is from this that we brought the idea of giving numbers and card with a chip. That chip makes the card secure so that if it is stolen or someone tries to break it, it destroys itself. It is different from the previous card because the old one has only two gigs but the new card which has been updated has 8 kilobytes.
So it is like two times bigger than the old one. It is expensive to produce and also time consuming, therefore we decided to focus on numbers like it is done in other countries. Another perspective is that, we don’t have the culture of identity management or having the identity card, but if you go to any of these small francophone countries, you cannot survive without an identification number or card, and in most of them, they pay to get them.
In those countries, you cannot travel anywhere without presenting your passport but here in Nigeria, you can travel from here to Lagos without an identity card, even when a police man ask you, some people challenge the policemen. But with the problem of security now in Nigeria, planning, budgeting and other important things, government needs to know everybody or have information about Nigerians. Most people don’t know that, every year, Nigerians give birth to seven million children every year and when I mention it in Rwanda in a presentation, there was uproar. I didn’t know why the hall erupted in that uproar until after we finished, when somebody came and told me that, the seven million we produce every year is the population of Rwanda. And here in Nigeria, we produce one Rwanda every year.
Does it means we have a time bomb in our hands if something is not done to check our increase in population?
Yes, all these Almajiris, jobless youths and then 60 percent of our population, in less than 25 years will become a big problem in the future if good policies are not enacted now to manage them. It is actually a time bomb. That is why we came up with a programme called Ecosystem. This means, it is a sustainable system whereby every government agency and private sector will capture data and send it to us.
Will this make it easy for NIMC to get all the information they need from Nigerians?
Yes, we expect them to capture the data and sent it to us so that we can capture everybody in three years. We are already harmonising with the BNV data because they followed the standard we are using. So when somebody comes, we usually ask for just the BVN number and once we log in, we will see the person’s information and we will just complete it.
What will happen to illiterates or people in the rural area who don’t believe in saving money in the banks?
That is why I said we will have the private sector included that will go and capture people in places like the market. Any government service you require, you are expected to give them your number. In NIMC act of 2007, the government listed 16 items as our mandate , but I will list just a few, the commission shall create, manage, and maintain and operate the national identity database established under section 14 of this act include harmonization and integration of existing identification database in government agencies and interpreting them into the Nation identity database. We are also mandated to carry out registration of citizens of Nigeria into the National identity database. NIMC is to carry out the registration of non-citizens of Nigeria who are lawfully resident in Nigeria and issue a general multi-purpose identity card to any person registered pursuant to paragraphs B and C.
We are also mandated to assign a unique National Identification number to any person registered pursuant to paragraph b and c. The agency is meant to ensure the preservation ,protection ,sanctity and security (including cyber security) of any information or data collection, obtained, maintained or stored in NIMC database.
At the same time, NIMC established and maintains a secured communication links with any existing relevant identity related database or agency. We also researched and monitor development in the identity management sector, carry out the registration of births and deaths in Nigeria.
Why does a Nigerian need a National identity?
The mandatory use of the National Identification number for transactions like the application for an arid issuance of passport, opening of individual and or personal bank accounts, purchase of insurance policies, subject to the provision of the land used asked, the purchase , transfer and registration by any individual or any transaction connected with transaction pertaining to the pension reform acts,2004,health insurance scheme, all consumer credit transaction, transaction that have social security implications, registration of voters, payment of taxes, relevant government service and other transaction which the commission may so prescribe and list in the Federal government gazettes and any authority to which a person applies to carry out any transaction listed under the subsection(1) of this section shall request such person to produced his multipurpose Identity cards or National identity number.
How successful has the programme been so far?
For you to understand our progress, you must know that our mandate is to create sustainable world class identity management solution that will affirm identity of a person, enhance governance and service delivery by 2019 because it is then my tenure will end which is my vision. But the mission is to establish and regulate a reliable and sustainable system of National Identify management that enables citizens and legal residents affirm their identity in an environment of innovations and excellence. The card is very important and unique because it has this match on identity where all the ten fingers will be captured, even if somebody steals it, he will be easily caught. It also has the electronic ID which will make identification easy when the visa becomes digital.
It also has the public key infrastructure which is very important because it gives you digital certificate. You can encrypt your document which can be private and public. It contains document and non-repudiation. The new NIMC identity card has provision for up to 13 applets, five of which are currently activated when an applicant picks his card. The applets are built in and activated in recognition of the importance of identity management in accessing a wide range of services in the Nigerians identity ecosystem and indeed the world at large.