The Federal Government on Thursday announced an imminent plan to replace the current plastic national identity card with a more seamless digital process to be domiciled under the National Identity Management Commission.
The national identity card project has gulped billions of naira since 2003
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who spoke on Thursday while fielding questions from State House reporters, said the use of identity card was for convenience purpose.
The minister, while reacting to a question that sought to know whether the proposed Citizen Data Management System would not end up like the current identity card process which challenges had not been addressed after almost 20 years, said: “The card is just for convenience. The real thing is the number you have.
“With that number (National Identity Number, you’re on the databank, everything about you is there. We’re just upgrading it such that your DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) too will be there very soon.
“Even if you’re in a car, I’ll know if you’re the one in the car with your DNA, it’s already captured. You’re already captured, you cannot run away anymore.”
Pantami said the attention of the programme would no more be production of cards, but strengthening the digital platform.
“What the chairman is saying now is that we’re no more talking about cards. The world has gone digital. So, that card is no more. Our priority now is digital ID; it’ll be attached to your database wherever you’re.
“So, if you can memorize it by heart, wherever you go, that central database domiciled with NIMC will be able to provide the number and every of your data will be provided.
“Now, our focus is no longer on producing cards. That card is only for record, but what is important is that the digital ID and if you notice, we’ve started using the digital ID on international passport. Once you have the digital ID but not the card, we’re 100 percent done with you,” Pantami said.
The Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission, Aliyu Aziz, said the country had shifted its focus on national identification number as the plastic card had become a drain on the economy because of forex outflow.
Aziz said: “With your national ID, you are already identified. In the United States, it’s called social security number, the same with UK and….they can control more than 1.3 billion people in about seven minutes.
“So, we’ve found that this card is strenuous, it’s forex that’s going out of the country and we’re in 21st century and that’s why we’re focusing on national identification number and other identifications by other agencies have been linked to NIMC.”
The minister of interior had earlier said that all agencies of government except the Independent National Electoral Commission would be captured in the Citizen Data Management System by June 30, 2021.
Aregbesola, who said INEC was given an extension deadline of December 31, 2021, lamented that 14 existing agencies had citizens’ data that were “largely disjointed and uncoordinated”.
He said that it would now be mandatory to also go through NIMC for SIM registration.
‘41m Nigerians have NINs’
The media consultant to the NIMC, Mkpe Abang, said a total of 41million Nigerians had received their unique National Identity Numbers.
Abang, however, refused to disclose the total amount of money spent in the registration so far, saying”There is no use putting a figure to how much has been spent on identity registration so far, because it’s happened at different stages and levels”.
A study by NIMC in collaboration with World Bank has said $2.5bn would be needed to get all Nigerians unique identities.