By Chima Akwaja, Lagos
The director-general of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz, has warned that any Nigerian without the National Identification Number (NIN) issued by the commission runs the risk of being regarded as a non-Nigerian citizen.
Aziz spoke against the backdrop of the federal government’s renewed efforts, spearheaded by NIMC, to enlighten Nigerians on the importance of enrolling to obtain the National Identification Number (NIM), which fully confers on any citizen so enrolled Nigerian citizenship. “It is the duty of every citizen to enrol and obtain his or her National Identification Number, which entitles one to be fully regarded as a Nigerian citizen,” he stated, adding “without the NIN anyone’s claims of being a Nigerian citizen are doubtful; that is what the NIMC Act is stipulates.”
NIMC was established by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007, as an offshoot of the Department of National Civic Registration (DNCR), to create, establish and maintain a Unique National Identity Database, register persons covered by the Act, assign a Unique National Identification Number (NIN), provide authentication platform for identity verification, issue General Multi-Purpose Cards (GMPC) and harmonise and integrate existing identification databases in Nigeria
Speaking at his debut interactive media session in Lagos, at the weekend, the NIMC director-general used the opportunity to clarify the misconception held in some sections of the society that NIMC’s primary role was merely the production and issuance of National Identity Cards to citizens.
Identifying the role of the media as pivotal to the success of the federal government’s target to enrol every citizen and issue same with the NIN, Aziz urged journalists to help in enlightening the public on the urgency and importance of enrolling and obtaining the NIN for the many benefits this brings to the individual citizen and the country as a whole.
Specifically, Aziz called on the media to deepen their understanding of NIMC’s functions, roles and mandate, as well as the challenges the commission is beset with, in order to be adequately informed and thereby mobilise the public to perform their civic responsibility of authenticating their citizenship, which can only be done by enrolling and obtaining the NIN.
Posing the question of ‘who you are’ which every human being is faced with globally, Aziz explained to the media stakeholders that NIMC was established “to provide a single version of truth or unique identity for every citizen (identity assurance) and foster the orderly development of an identity sector in Nigeria.”
Reeling out the many benefits of the NIN, Aziz said these include “one person one identity, enhances participation in the political process, important tool for fight against corruption and terrorism, enables citizens to exercise their rights and facilitates management of subsidies and safety net payments such as apply to Internal Displaced Persons.”
Other benefits of the NIN are that it facilitates service delivery in ministries, departments and agencies, enhances the work of law enforcement agencies thereby providing public safety, policing, national security and border protection, helps launder Nigeria’s image, elimination of ghost and multiple identities and enhances ability of citizens to assert their identity.
The “NIN also enhances access to credit from financial institutions, protects citizens from identity theft thereby being an antidote to identity theft driven frauds, it expands access to other financial services including insurance, it enhances e-commerce by providing a means of payment, it is a tool for non-repudiation and security for financial transactions and it facilitates financial inclusion and hence cashless economy,” he stated.
Referring to the media as “partners in progress” with NIMC, Engr. Aziz said by providing timely, concise and clear messages about NIN to the public the media would be helping the country to achieve Federal Government’s goal of having a reliable, accessible and verifiable database of citizens as obtainable in the civilised world.
The NIMC Director-General, who was appointed in November 2015, chronicled his sojourn in NIMC from 2007, as part of the founding staff of the commission, to his appointment as DG/CEO having served and retired from the Commission.
Engr. Aziz went on to list some of the key achievements of the Commission to include the populating of the National Identity Database, which currently boasts of about 18.5 million records, the establishment of up to 809 NIN enrolment centres nationwide, launch of the new electronic National ID Card with multiple functions, achievement of GVCP Certification and recertification of the NIMC Card Personalisation Bureau in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, Backend Infrastructures like the ABIS, NIDB Storage, Security Network, Datacentre, DR Sites and the ISO 27001: 2013 Certification and Re-certification as well as the commencement of the enrolment of minors (children of ages 0 – 16).
In listing the key challenges the commission faces in the execution of its mandate and targets, the Director General named funding as the overriding hindrance. He also lamented poor staff remuneration, which leads to constant loss of strategic human resources.