Nigeria: Govt Abandons Printed ID Card for Digital ID

13 August 2020

The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced an imminent plan to replace the current plastic national identity card with a more seamless digital process to be domiciled in the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who spoke on Thursday while fielding questions from State House reporters, said the use of Identity Card (ID) was for convenience purposes.

The minister, while reacting to a question that sought to know whether the proposed Citizen Data Management System would not end up like the current identity card process, said: "The card is just for convenience.

"The real thing is the number you have.

"With that number (National Identity Number [NIN]), you are on the databank, everything about you is there.

"We are just upgrading it such that your DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) too will be there very soon.

"Even if you are in a car, I will know if you are the one in the car with your DNA, it's already captured.

"You are already captured, you cannot run away anymore."

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami, in his contribution, said the world had gone digital and stopped focusing on the production of cards.

Pantami said: "What the chairman is saying now is that we are no more talking about cards, the world has gone digital.

So, that card is no more.

"Our priority now is digital ID, it will be attached to your database wherever you are.

"So, if you can memorize it by heart, wherever you go, that central database domiciled with NIMC will be able to provide the number and every one of your data will be provided.

"Now, our focus is no longer on producing cards, that card is only for record but what is important is that the digital ID and if you notice we have started using the digital ID on the international passport.

"Once you have the digital ID but not the card, we are 100 percent done with you."

The Director-General/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz, said the country had shifted its focus on national identification number as the plastic card had become a drain on the economy because of forex outflow.

Aziz said: "With your national ID, you are already identified.

"In the United States (US), it is called social security number, the same with the UK, and... .they can control more than 1.3 billion people in about seven minutes.

"So, we have found that this card is strenuous, it is forex that is going out of the country and we are in the 21st century and that is why we are focusing on national identification number and other identifications by other agencies have been linked to NIMC."

The minister of interior had earlier said that all agencies of government except the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would be captured in the Citizen Data Management System by June 30, 2021.

Aregbesola, who said INEC was given an extended deadline of December 31, 2021, lamented that 14 existing agencies had citizens' data that were "largely disjointed and uncoordinated".

He said that it would now be mandatory to also go through NIMC for SIM registration.

Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari received the report of the committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization chaired by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

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