Nigerian President says digital ID project will help curb insecurity
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has urged citizens to continue registering for the biometric national identification number (NIN) saying it will help the country better handle national security threats and enhance strategic national planning.
Buhari was speaking recently in the capital Abuja during a ceremony to launch the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content and the Revised National Identity Policy for SIM card registration which was recently validated by stakeholders, The Guardian reports.
A project to enroll Nigerians for a biometric digital ID has been ongoing for years now and it seeks to touch at least 150 million citizens by 2022. In December last year, the federal government made it mandatory for phone users to link their digital ID numbers to their SIM cards.
Already, about 54 million Nigerians are said to have already obtained the NIN, according to government statistics. There is currently a June 30 deadline for the SIM registration exercise.
With this, President Buhari says he believes the systematic identification of every citizen in the country will help government better carry out development projects and strategic planning, The Guardian adds.
Nigeria is currently facing a litany of internal security challenges including recurrent deadly attacks on villages as well as kidnappings of students by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
Apart from helping the federal government strengthen its security apparatus, Buhari said obtaining the NIN will also enable planning for efficient utilization of the country’s limited resources.
“The NIN will cover one of the weaknesses in our security structure. We will be able to easily identify and know the personality of Nigerians. We will identify people easily, including the crooks. The NIN is the foundational digital ID for the country; both Nigerian citizens and legal residents are expected to obtain the NIN. It will provide access to government services and will give government useful insights that will enable us to utilize scarce resources in a more efficient way,” The Guardian quoted Buhari as saying.
The President also noted the evolution of Nigeria’s digital technology space and its contribution to the growth of the country’s economy. This, he said, is thanks to the expansion of the mandate of the Ministry of Communications to include the Digital Economy portfolio. The federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is the government body overseeing the digital ID project.
“Previous attempts have been unsuccessful due to a number of reasons, including sabotage. Our focused approach shows that this administration is dedicated to ensuring that we derive the benefits of a secure and robust digital identity system,” the President said.
Security concerns made NIN compulsory for varsity entry exams
The Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) – the body organizing admission exams into public universities in Nigeria – recently reiterated why the federal government made the NIN a prerequisite for the exams.
Vanguard reports that Professor Ishaq Oloyede spoke recently on this in reaction to a flurry of complaints from some parents that their children who were seeking to register for the JAMB were finding it difficult to obtain the NIN.
JAMB announced in March that the national digital ID will henceforth be mandatory for registering for its exams.
One of the complaining parents quoted by Vanguard suggested that the federal government should put in place a system where NINs will automatically be integrated into birth certificates at birth.
“It is for security reasons. At our level, it helps us to avoid impersonation but there is a bigger picture of insecurity in the country and we know that many of the problems we have are because we have identification problem. We cannot identify every citizen, where they are and what they are doing…,” Professor Oloyede was quoted by Vanguard.
“Government is trying to ensure that we have some strategy for improving the security system…If those who are coming in to the tertiary institution are exposed to this basic civil responsibility, it will be good to develop a culture of accountability because accountability starts with being identified,” he added.
Gombe State detects ghost workers with biometric system
The northeastern State of Gombe in Nigeria says it detected 668 ghost workers and saved up to N37 million (about US$97,000) for the month of April following the launch of its biometric verification system, Nigerian Tribune reports.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Gambo Magaji, said in a recent presser that the move involved biometric capture for staff of 80 ministries, agencies and departments of the state and two local government areas. Those affected were said not to have turned up for verification during the biometric enrolment period, the official said.
He promised that the State will continue with the exercise until the civil service is fully sanitized, and also warned against manipulating the biometric machines, the report adds.
Other states like Borno have also been running biometric systems to rid their civil service of undue salary earners.