The aspiration for a national identity for all residents is a laudable one in any country in the world and Nigeria is not left out.
The Nigerian National ID project started in 1976 during the first time of General Olusegun Obasanjo as military Head of State.
Nigerian Information Technology professionals are unhappy that despite this aspiration, the project is yet to gain full traction up till date due to several factors and challenges.
The Present government initially came with heightened interest on the project, ordering harmonization of all identity databases in Nigeria.
The responsibility of registering and issuing National Identity Number (NIN) has been vested on the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the IT Professionals under the umbrella of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), have offered to support the Commission to deliver on the project.
Meanwhile, this exercise is currently going on, but with some challenges and showstoppers.
At the last count, the current implementation by NIN had achieved about 42 million records (NIN) which represents just about 20% of Nigerians.
The slow progress over the years has been attributed to poor funding as stated by the Director General of NIMC, Engr, Aliyu Abubakar.
He has also mentioned that the Commission had been waiting for a grant from the World bank for almost 2 years to build the “Identity Ecosystem” to enlarge its capacity to register Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the project was among those mentioned in the recent
National ID card project received as boost as it was part of the projects listed among the World Bank’ $430m grant approved for Nigeria.
But, the problem is further amplified by the failure of NIMC to ramp up her capacity to register Students for JAMB in 2019, an exercise that the Government had to reverse in order to remove the hardship and frustration by the intending applicants during the registration process.
To this end, NCS is saying, “If well implemented, the NIMC project will improve access to credit, reduce incidence if crime, create veritable platform for integrated transactions and PRIDE for Nigerians”,
The President NCS, Prof. Adesina Sodiya speaking on this matter in a document available to TechEconomy.ng said that the recent COVID 19 pandemic has now called for a renewed thinking for building and management of our Strategic National infrastructure such as the National Identity Registry. It is certain that the donor Countries and Agencies will now have new priorities post COVID-19.
“The Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), the Umbrella body of all IT Practitioners in Nigeria, hereby wishes to offer its assistance to government and state as follows:
- That the progress of work on the NIMC project is not good enough
- That we are ready and capable of solving the challenges on the project in Nigeria by Nigerians
- That the management of the Current Pandemic can be better managed with a good and acceptable National Identity database
- That we propose as follows:
- That we shall support NIMC to create a framework for issuance of Temporary National Identity Number using complex data matching algorithm and facial recognition. This will allow Nigerians to register for NIMC by themselves using a simple Mobile phones. The application will be capable of working offline with upload to the central server when the Network is available.
- Nigerians can get their NIN in a “DO IT YOURSELF” framework and from the comfort of their homes
- NIMC can still collect and add fingerprints later for the temporary NIN to be permanent (if fingerprint is important).
- That NCS and associated organs and partners will collaborate to deliver this platform for NIMC within 180 days
- NCS will also deliver a robust platform for management of aids, foods, materials etc during this pandemic period
- All the agents and partners of NCDC, NEMA, Non-Government Organizations, Donors etc will assist to register Nigerians before giving out aids, foods etc. This means such agencies can also track and check if the beneficiaries had received from other agencies before giving out more.
- Nigerians should be mandated to make sure they register themselves before they can access aids from government and all Donors must register all beneficiaries of their efforts.
- This is our proposal and Simple and pragmatic Solutions
Prof. Sodiya added that this is their professional intervention to solving major National crisis for the benefit and pride of Nigerians.
“It is time Nigerian Professionals prove their worth.
“However, this proposal will require the support, collaboration, and blessings of NIMC, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, NITDA, NCC and other related agencies. It is time to cut out the usual bureaucracies.
“NCS will not continue to provide necessary supports for using information technology-based solutions for driving national development. Our Members remain committed and are always willing to provide the capacities and technical expertise needed for building acceptable integrated database for this country”.