Nigeria Communications Commission stresses centralized identity database

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has once again emphasized the federal government should consolidate its multiple databases into a single database to reinforce the country’s identity management plan, according to a report by This Day.

Tony Ojobo, director of public Affairs at NCC, made the decision while delivering a paper at a public forum organized by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).

He said that creating a centralized database for the country would ensure that all Nigerians have easy and ready access to information, which in turn would address security issues and boost the confidence of potential investors that are considering investing in the country.

There are several databases in Nigeria but they are all working individually and they do not address the security needs and other key needs of the country.

To remedy this, the federal government called on the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to facilitate the harmonization of all databases, including SIM card registration, bank verification number (BVN), driver’s licence registration, and others.

The NIMC has begun the harmonization process, although the results have been slow moving due to logistic reasons.

Ojobo, who discussed “Trackable Identity and Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria,” said trackable identity has become a requirement for conducting business.

“In spite of whatever challenges, the global trend is for all citizens to be registered, and for each citizen to be covered with a legal identity including birth registrations,” Ojobo said. “Citizen registration is now an item in post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda with 2.4 billion people identified as having no official identity and these people reside in Africa and Asia.

“While traditional identification rely on passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), smart cards, and the likes, biometric identification, using fingerprints and iris scans are generally more reliable and secure. They are adopted more universally like in driving licences and international passports. Biometrics identity are also more reliable in linking individuals to event and actions. It is therefore preferred by security institutions in fighting crimes.”

Ojobo also appealed to telecoms operators in Nigeria involved in Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration not to comply with the registration, emphasizing that they should discontinue phone numbers that are not adequately captured on their databases as soon as possible.

By doing so, Ojobo said it would prevent operators from experiencing any friction with NCC that would result in a penalty.

In August, a Nigerian information technology expert revealed that the country’s federal government may be losing $2 billion annually to the duplication of biometric collection by government agencies.

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