September 29, 2014 -
The Nigerian government’s decision to brand its new electronic national identity card with MasterCard’s logo has drawn a significant backlash among experts in constitutional law and economics, according to the Osun Defender.
Previously reported, Nigerian Identity Management Commission recently launched the pilot program of the electronic national identity card, which all Nigerians are required to have by 2019 if they want to vote.
MasterCard is providing the prepaid payment functionality for the card, which will provide financial services to the millions of Nigerians who currently do not have bank accounts.
Many experts in constitutional law and economics are upset by the Mastercard branding, including constitutional expert Fred Agbaje.
“If it is a national ID card, from the word ‘national,’ it should carry the Nigerian logo,” Agbeje told Nigerian newspaper Sunday Punch. “Why a personalized logo? In effect, it is the company that would be given copyright (ownership) over such things.
Government will then have no jurisdiction over such an item tagged ‘national.’ You cannot say something is national and put the emblem of even one of the states of the federation on it, not to talk of a private company.”
Agbaje also added that while he welcomes the idea of a national ID card, the government ought to reject anything that will make it look personalized because it contradicts the card’s national identity purpose.
Professor Abayomi Adebayo, the head of the economics department at Obafemi Awolowo University, also feels that branding the national ID card with the Mastercard logo is unacceptable.
“That is part of the careless way we do things in Nigeria,” said Abebayo. “A national identification must carry the logo of the country in use of it; more so that it is a national issue. MasterCard may be considered to be an efficient company, but having the logo on the national ID card does not make any sense to me.”