Nigerian government biometrics programs yielding results, biometric ATMs coming

Senior Nigerian government officials praised the efforts of the National Immigration Service (NIS) in implementing the country’s biometric visa at a year-end awards ceremony, The Nation reports.

Ministry of Interior Permanent Secretary Abubakar Magaji said Nigeria’s biometric visa program is the only one of its kind in Africa.

“It started this year, but we have already launched it. I know the biometric visa is going to block many people that we don’t want to come to Nigeria,” Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) told the gathering, according to The Nation.

The NIS was the first agency to receive the Presidential Impact Award, and its introduction of online pre-approval for its Visa on Arrival program was credited with contributing to the country’s rise from 169th to 145th in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking.

Eliminating ghost workers from public payrolls

Biometric screening has eliminated 2,000 “ghost workers” from Benue State government payrolls, the State’s Commissioner for Finance David Olofu said in an interview with Nigeria’s Independent.

The monthly wage bill of the state government rose from N8.2 billion (approximately $22.8 million) to N8.5 billion ($23.6 million) after a minimum wage scheme was extended to teachers, Olofu said, but subsequent screening reduced the monthly total to N7.8 billion ($21.7 million).

Olofu said that entire “ghost schools” had previously existed, staffed with fraudulent workers.

The government of Nigeria’s Abia State undertook a similar biometric worker-verification program earlier this year. In July, Biometric Update discussed the problem of ghost workers with Harold Monu, CEO of Nigerian biometrics firm Data Infosec.

Central Bank of Nigeria to introduce biometric ATMs

Dipo Fatokan of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) told the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum that the institution is working toward replacing ATM PIN codes with biometrics, Nigerian Communications Week reports.

PIN codes are often shared by people who are illiterate or incapacitated, Fatokan said, and CBN considers the move to biometrics essential to curtail bank fraud. “There is no way you can give your finger to a third party,” he said.

The implementation will take time, due to the high cost of biometric hardware, Fatokan said, but he expressed confidence that new ATMs will be introduced soon.

As previously reported, Abuja, Nigeria will host ID4Africa 2018 in April.

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