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Nigeria targets 200M for digital ID coverage while sectoral schemes expand

Biometrics and digital ID

The Director General of Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, says plans by the country to reach all of its 200 million citizens with a digital ID are on course, according to Punch.

The country’s government is also continuing to use separate biometric databases to deliver targeted benefits to citizens, with a pension scheme taking steps to bring in those excluded so far, and a plan to distribute 2.4 trillion naira (US$5.8 billion) in cash instead of fuel subsidies.

The latter plan is being developed by Nigeria’s government and the World Bank.

Fuel subsidies are set to end after July, 2022, as the government moves to allow gas prices to be determined by the market and make the subsidy’s costs more sustainable. Up to 40 million people will receive 5,000 naira ($12.15) each on a monthly basis, with authentication through the banks’ biometric BVN system, according to Al Jazeera. Details, however, are scant at this time.

Universal coverage ambition

Speaking recently during a visit by the Cameroon team of the Korea International Development Agency (KOICA) to a digital government training facility in Abuja, Aziz disclosed that more than 67 million people have already been enrolled into the digital ID database.

Aziz added that the idea of the ID project is to make sure every citizen has a digital ID so they can enjoy access to digital public services. He noted that the 200 million figure could increase as the country’s population keeps growing.

The country is upgrading the infrastructure to support its digital ID, but recently abandoned its draft data protection regulation to start the process anew.

Clean-up of pensioners’ biometric database ongoing

An exercise to verify the biometric identity of 21,000 federal government pensioners who were not registered during the first phase in 2019 is now underway.

Per a report by Vanguard, the exercise being carried out by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) concerns mostly those in the southwest of the country under the Defined Benefit Scheme, who missed the verification process for various reasons.

The Executive Secretary of PTAD Dr. Chioma Ejikeme called on all concerned pensioners to show up for the biometric verification exercise, saying this will enable have a better idea of who is eligible or not for the pension scheme.

“This is for all those people who feel that they are unknown…We are asking all of them to avail themselves of this opportunity, to come and get verified because without that verification we won’t have a view on our database,” Ejikeme was quoted by Punch as appealing.

Some of the pensioners who spoke to Punch praised PTAD for the reforms and for efforts aimed at sanitizing the pension system, which they said, was hitherto bedeviled by a litany of problems including fraud.

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