President Muhammadu Buhari has granted approval for the transfer of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
A statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, said the decision was to ensure “synergy and effective ministry supervisory mechanism is put in place to coordinate, monitor and track the progress of Federal Government’s digital transformation initiatives.”
Transferring the identity commission to the ministry, according to the statement, will aid the harmonisation of citizens’ data which will aid planning, the economy and security.
The commission which is in charge of managing national identity database for Nigerians was hitherto domiciled under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Mrs Suleiman in her statement said in granting the approval, Mr Buhari considered the role of NIMC in achieving the objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS).
She said the presidential directive for NIMC to be under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is an illustration of Mr President’s vote of confidence on the minister, Isa Ibrahim (Pantami), “based on an unprecedented performance.“
The statement noted that the minister had “within his first year in office, amongst others, resolved the ICT sector’s decade-long dilemma of Right of Way charges.
“He was also able to secure Mr President’s approval for the provision of security as well as designation of Telecommunications Infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure, regularization of improperly registered SIM cards and deactivation of unregistered ones, the deployment of over 250 digital projects across the country under his policies and supervision as well as built the capacity of over 36,000 Nigerians.”
It may be recalled that NIMC is mandated to create, manage, maintain and operate the National Identity Database established by the NIMC Act, 2007.
In an effort to realise this, the commission has so far registered around 41 million eligible enrollees for the National Identity Number (NIN).
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the other hand has details of over 191 million mobile subscribers.
Furthermore, the National Information Technology Development Agency has recorded huge successes in the development and implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), the country’s first codified data protection regulation. The Agency has also reached an advanced stage on the implementation of the National Public Key Infrastructure (NPKI). Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) also provides services to Government Agencies – Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service. The need therefore for NIMC, NCC, NITDAand GBB to work closely together under the supervision of one Ministry towards harnessing what has already been achieved cannot be overemphasised.
The NIN, considered as a social security as well as civil number, is very important for economic planning and social intervention.
“With Federal Government’s digitalisation initiatives in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, access to services and interventions will require it.
“We therefore urge all eligible individuals to enrolles soon as possible. Furthermore, the Honourable Minister is assuring Nigerians as well as residents that appropriate measures will be put in place to ensure that opportunities for enrollment are provided to all.”