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Nigerians urge new NIMC boss to expand digital ID coverage, streamline enrollment

Nigerians urge new NIMC boss to expand digital ID coverage, streamline enrollment
 

The new director general of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Bisoye Coker-Odusote, has been called upon to expand digital ID coverage in the country and to simplify the way citizens enroll for ID or make corrections to their ID information after enrollment

This is among the barrage of issues she is expected to address as she begins her 90-day interim spell as head of the ID-issuing authority, The Guardian reports.

Coker-Odusote was recently appointed to the helm of NIMC, taking over from Engr. Aliyu Abubakar Aziz who has been put on pre-retirement leave after serving in the office for eight years.

In the report, the outlet chronicles the ordeal faced by many Nigerians either in registering for the biometric National Identification Number (NIN) or in correcting mistakes found on their NIN slips after registration.

While some of those who spoke to the publication expressed the wish to see the process of fixing some of these problems simplified, they have also expressed the wish to see the digital ID enrollment process extended to more remote communities, and for incomplete registrations to be sorted out quickly. They have also called for an increase in the number of NIN registration centers from the current 5,500 nationwide.

Over 100 million Nigerians have so far registered for the NIN, according to the NIMC, but observers say expanding the coverage to more areas is extremely important if the country is to reach the world bank target of 148 million digital ID by next year and about 85 percent of all of Nigeria’s population by 2027.

Achieving the goal, analysts say, will also mean addressing other challenges which the previous NIMC administration grappled with for many years, such as lack of adequate funding, infrastructure and personnel motivation.

“NIMC should be budget-driven for performance. Aliyu tried, but the new MD can do better and work on identified gaps to move the commission forward for the good of Nigeria,” The Guardian quoted Leo Stan Ekeh, group chairman of IT company Zinox, as saying.

Community leaders throw weight behind NIMC

As expectations from the new NIMC boss grow, some community leaders in Nigeria have pledged unwavering support for the ID authority as it carries out its mandate of enrolling Nigerians for the national digital ID.

The Lamido of Adamawa in Northern Nigeria, while receiving an NIMC delegation at his palace recently, commended the body for a good job and urged it to ramp up its efforts in registering people in remote communities in his area, according to a statement.

The outgoing NIMC Director General, Aliyu Aziz, who was part of the delegation also made up of Nigeria Digital Identity for Development (Nigeria ID4D) officials, assured the local leader that measures have been taken to register children, women and vulnerable persons all over the country for the NIN.

Aziz underlined the importance of the digital ID, saying “when the government knows who and where those living in Nigeria are, the government will be able to make adequate provisions for them.”

$500 million to boost digital economy

In a related story, the new Minister for Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy Bosun Tijani has disclosed that about $500 million has been secured from partners to continue Nigeria’s digital transformation drive.

At a dinner in his honor as the boss of the supervisory ministry of the digital ID project, Tijani said the funds will be invested into a local program which seeks to encourage and support innovative startups contributing to Nigeria’s digital economy, per Punch.

Tijani, who has also had a successful career in tech, added that this funding is just the beginning of good things to come, and that the objective is to encourage homegrown tech entrepreneurs.

At the same event, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria Shubham Chaudhuri also assured listeners that the Bretton Woods institution will continue to provide Nigeria with the necessary support in order to meet its 2024 target of enrolling at least 148 million people of working age for digital ID.

The official also reiterated the crucial role digital innovation and technology can play in improving access to services, hence improving the living conditions of citizens.

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