The Nigerian Information Technology professionals have again offered to assist the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), to deliver on the ongoing project – that is, to have all citizens/residents enrolled on the national identity database.
The workload appears overwhelming for the Commission following a directive by the Federal Government of Nigeria that all SIM Card holders should link them to a National Identification Number (NIN).
The Nigerian National ID project started in 1976 during the Military rule of General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Meanwhile, the IT professionals are unhappy that despite the efforts so far, less than one-quarter of the county’s population are yet to be enrolled on the national database which calls for more capacity on the side of NIMC.
To this end, the professionals under the umbrella – Nigeria Computer Society – have expressed their willingness to provide both technological and human capacity needed to executive the project.
TechEconomy.ng recalls that NCS had offered to assist NIMC before now, but as the February 19 deadline draws closer and with the report that about 47.8 million NINs have been linked to SIM cards, it now obvious that many citizens risk disconnection from using mobile network services.
In a chat with TechEconomy.ng, the President of the Nigeria Computer Society, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, said that the Society have always expressed their readiness to partner with both private and public organisations towards execution of IT-related projects.
Sodiya said that as a Society they had foresaw that NIMC’s project requires extensive work and expanded project partners to meet-up with the expectations of the government.
He said that NCS had at a time ‘challenged’ NIMC’s management on better ways of realising the NIN enrolment target. The Society even went ahead to constitute a ‘Committee on NIMC’ which is meant to analyse and recommend better ways to executive the project and other similar registrations.
The NCS President further warned that decentralization of the process is one of ways to ensure COVID-19 protocols are adhered to, even as COVID-19 cases in the country have been on increase recently.
Here are his words:
“As a Society, we see things ahead, especially in the area of IT development. Of course, that is why we are there. We challenged NIMC at that time on better ways of realising the National Identification Number (NIN) registration. Even last year when the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board wanted to enforce the NIN usage for candidates’ registration; they had to ditch it, even for that small number of people.
“Now, we are talking about over 70% of the population. You want to force them to complete this registration within how many weeks? It is actually a problem.
When we heard they have registered or accredited about 2,000 organisations to assist in the registration, I quickly placed a call to the Director General of NIMC with the intent to understand why the previously approved partners (by NIMC) could not deliver on this project.
“What I could deduce from the responses and other investigations I carried out was that NIMC was expected to release the initial mobilization fund. Unfortunately, NIMC didn’t have the funds. Secondly, some of them were said to lack the capacity to deliver on the project.
“Then, the question NIMC needs to address is: Why did you approve their participation in the process in the first place? This is the time they really need those people; to assist in the registration process. I understand they (the registrants) were to be paid an equivalent of $1/NIN registered. And that project is sponsored by the World Bank. In all fairness to the DG, Engr. A. Aziz, he is very open to receiving advice.
“The Nigeria Computer Society recently constituted a Committee on NIMC –activities. Whatever recommendations we have, we sent to the DG and will continue to do that until the goal is actualised.
“In fact, we had proposed to NIMC to leverage the NCS Chapters across the States to extend the NIN registration centres. In a case that is not visible, we have members who care credible and capable to make this work”.
Prof. Sodiya also advised the Federal Government to have a rethink on the plan to bar SIM card users who failed to link-up with a NIN, stressing that it will affect many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are reliant on SIM cards to carry out their businesses.
He also said called on the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMoC&DE), to convene stakeholders’ meeting to discuss further steps to be taken to achieve the digital economy agenda.
The Body was formed in 1978 based on the vision and aspirations of the initial members and was initially called Computer Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The name was soon changed to COAN. COAN was established as the umbrella body of all IT professionals in Nigeria.