The Federal Government has inaugurated the Steering Committee for the Nigeria Digital Identity for Development Ecosystem Project to fast-track the implementation of the Strategic Roadmap for accelerating digital identity development for Nigeria.
Inaugurating the Committee, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Team, said Digital Identification is central and critical to realising the objective of the Government’s Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP).
He said the Strategic Roadmap, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on September 12, 2018, “is a culmination of the enormous collective efforts and contributions of so many institutions and stakeholders which began in the year 2015 when this Government took a decision to forge a credible and cost-effective pathway for identification management.”
To accelerate the implementation of the Strategic Roadmap, therefore, “Government considered and adopted a three-tiered institutional arrangement comprising of a Steering Committee, a Strategic Unit, an Implementation Unit situated in the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and with responsibilities for providing overall governance and coordination, ecosystem partners’ coordination and communication and day-to-day project implementation respectively.”
According to him: “The Project Steering Committee was established as the highest body with the responsibility of providing policy, institutional and operational guidance towards delivering on the identification vision and promise of the Strategic Roadmap. Members of the Steering Committee were appointed by Mr. President. You are therefore charged to positively steer the Project to accomplish Government’s objectives, consolidate efforts to date and deliver goals outlined in the Strategic Roadmap.”
The SGF listed members of the Steering Committee, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, as follows: Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Chairman; Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Alternate Chairman/Member; Hon. Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Member; Hon. Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Member; Hon. Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Member; Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Member; Hon. Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Member; Director-General, National Orientation Agency, Dr. Garba Abari, Member and the Director-General of NIMC, Engr. Aliyu Aziz, who is Member/Secretary.
Mr. Mustapha said the work of the Steering Committee shall be guided by the following Terms of Reference as approved by Mr. President:
i. Review the legal and regulatory framework for digital identity development;
ii. Implement the strategic Roadmap;
iii. Utilise foundational identity to access services;
iv. Determine the location of the Ecosystem Strategic Unit; and
v. Receive the report on the implementation through the DG NIMC and provide necessary guidance and approval.
Speaking further, the SGF said the Strategic Roadmap offers “a credible pathway for the Government to develop identification, at a low cost, fast pace and in a trusted environment.
“The task before this Committee is to ensure that Federal Government of Nigeria leverages the existing ecosystem of Government Agencies, States, and trusted private partners to carry out nationwide enrolment through a viable partnership strategy with an effective public awareness campaign.
“As a nation, we have a lot of grounds to cover and our fundamental ID goal can only be reached through joint efforts and coordinated approach.
“You would all agree with me that there is no time than now for this project, especially as it would have considerably reduced a number of challenges we are facing with identifying and locating poor and vulnerable Nigerians in effective and efficient distribution of palliatives to cushion the effect of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
“Of course, without meaning to enumerate the issues associated with the absence of a foundational ID system which you are all familiar with, the existence of a National Identification Number (NIN) for all Nigerians would improve our delivery of Government services,” he stated.
While giving assurance that the Federal Government is “fully committed to early actualisation of this Project to enhance effective development and efficient delivery of government services,” the SGF added that discussions, contributions, and decisions of the Committee “are expected to help build foundations towards the institutionalisation of a robust and reliable system of identity envisioned to link all functional identities including a digitised civil registration system with the National Identification Number (NIN).”
According to Mr. Mustapha the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has since 2012 enrolled “a total number of 41 million Nigerians and issued each person with a unique identifier known as the National Identification Number (NIN), which serves as a universal proof of identity.”
He stated that the Commission has also harmonised about 11 million Bank Verification Number (BVN) data from other Public Agencies, and added:
“One major objective of an accelerated digital identification system is to increase the enrolment of the entire eligible population, which means increasing the database by 187 million within the next 3 to 5 years’ duration of the project.”
The inauguration, which was witnessed by the World Bank Team led by the Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, also had in attendance, the Permanent Secretary, Political and Economic Affairs, in the Office of the SGF, Mr. Andrew David Adejoh.