There is enormous political mileage to be covered in the national identity card project which can benefit governments at the sub-national level, the Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr. Ashishana Okauru has said.
He made this known when he received his counterpart from the National Identity Card Commission NIMC, Eng Aliyu Abdulaziz, at the secretariat of the governors’ forum in Aso Koro Abuja on Tuesday.
According to a statement by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, Head, Media & Public Affairs of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Mr. Okauru said the data that is embedded in the “National Identity card, which includes personal biometrics, bank registration pins and the possibility for the card to harmonize all information concerning individuals all over the country, is good for planning, taxation and quick and reliable polls for statistical purposes at the state level.”
“I can tell you, this project is at the heart of national development and I would like to see governors embrace it because it is likely to make demographic and other governance planning arrangements more methodical”, Mr Okauru said, adding that it “provides easy economic management for its foundation platform”.
Enumerating the structure of the card, Eng Aziz said that the new commission has acquired a make-over in which it dissolved from a national identity card to a national identity number, the difference being that the number is unique to each individual and about the most secure in the world second only to the Israeli identification number.
“Before now, people were only interested in the card, which was prone to abuse”, Eng Aziz explained.
He said Nigeria is about the freest country in the world where people can walk in freely and continue to live without being subjected to any routine check or scrutiny. However, Eng Aliyu said that the current security situation in the country has made it imperative for the country to introduce the number so as to control the influx of strangers into the country and also plan appropriately.
He said the Commission is working hand in glove with the TELCOs and banks in the country so that by the end of his term he would have registered about a hundred million people. “At the moment we have only registered about 11 million people out of which only a million have received their cards”, Eng Aziz declared.
The BVN, according to him, has also only captured 23 million people throughout the country.
Eng Aziz said that in five weeks NIMC had closed the nation’s borders in an intensive registration drive but realized that at the end of the day it was only able to capture 55 million people which warranted that it changed tactics for greater efficiency.
This he said is because Nigeria is growing at 7million people per annum and therefore makes registration a continuous exercise so that more people can be captured and more agencies like INEC, and others can leverage on the project to make identity fool proof.
Although he declared that the commission faces a number of challenges which is why it is approaching the NGF to assist in bringing to bear the attention of governors to the registration to mitigate rural -urban drift and make it easier for different authorities to search and find people, Eng Aziz stated that his commission has borrowed the Indian system which has registered almost a billion people after noticing that the PPP system of registration didn’t work.
Eng Aziz, however, concluded that every data supplied to the registration process has a 72 hour threshold after which if not completely processed would be thrown out of the system.
“The commission is bent now on identifying individuals who would register at different levels and transfer their data to the commission for a fee,” he declared.