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Nigeria’s former digital ID chief says more funding needed to push expansion efforts

Nigeria’s former digital ID chief says more funding needed to push expansion efforts

The outgoing director general of Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, says there is need for more funding in order to extend digital ID enrollment to all corners of the country’s 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

In an interview with New Telegraph, Aziz addressed several issues related to Nigeria’s digital ID ecosystem and its digital transformation journey.

While noting that the success so far of the scheme, which has seen the registration of more than 100 million people, is thanks largely to the strong collaboration between government and private sector partners, Aziz said there is still more work to be done.

He said with “adequate funding, we would be able to open enrollment centers in each LGA, provide adequate power to all centers for effective enrollment, print and deliver all current outstanding cards, and deploy full verification and authentication infrastructure and services nationwide to enable government agencies and businesses to verify individuals’ identities.”

Speaking about the need for more biometrics enrollment centers as part of the NIMC’s plan to take digital ID to every one eligible for it, the official noted that NIMC plans to increase the number of enrollment points it operates. Mobile enrolment devices help to reach remote areas, while partnerships extend service availability and help to reach the diaspora.

Reiterating the usefulness of the National Identification Number (NIN), the outgoing NIMC boss, who will definitively hand over on November 24, said “the integration of NIN into processes like immigration and admission has improved data accuracy and streamlined operations,” adding that it has also helped in tackling fraud and other identity-related wrongdoing.

“Beyond operational benefits, this alignment fosters an ecosystem that prioritizes identity and security. Collaboration with JAMB and NIS underscores our commitment to integrating NIN into crucial processes, enhancing data accuracy, and countering identity-related fraud,” he noted.

The uptake of the NIN is encouraging, Aziz holds, but he believes a more pointed enforcement by the federal government of the mandatory NIN policy would encourage further enrollment.

“The NIMC Act allows the NIN to be presented by individuals before they can access certain services. If this is enforced, the public would be required to enroll and this would go a long way in populating the National Identity Database in a timely manner and enable us to provide the full benefits of the NIMS.”

Talking about data harmonization, the official said there is a committee working on it and that functional ID systems like NIBSS, NCC, and immigration have already been harmonized.

This month, Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo spoke about the data harmonization issue, saying they are prepared to deal with all the hurdles impeding the process.

Aliyu Aziz, who led the NIMC for eight years, was put on pre-retirement leave in August and is credited for his positive role in Nigeria’s digital ID development progression.

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