With a $433 million (N1.5 trillion) World Bank support, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is set for a massive registration of Nigerians for the country’s mandatory National Identity Number (NIN).
LEADERSHIP learnt that the fund comes under the friendly ecosystem project of the World Bank, which allows Nigeria to implement the identity ecosystem approach for the digital identity project under the National Identity Management System (NIMS).
On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari approved NIMC’s strategic roadmap for Digital Identity Ecosystem in Nigeria.
The Digital Identity Ecosystem is a framework that leverages on the existing capabilities and infrastructure of distinct government agencies and private sector organisations to carry out the enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB) as well as the issuance of Digital identity, known as the National Identification Number (NIN) to give Nigeria a credible identity management system.
The Ecosystem Project is being implemented in partnership with the World Bank, Agence Française de Dévelopement (AFD) and the European Union (EU). The project seeks to scale up enrolment, extend enrolment coverage nationwide, and reduce cost in data collection, speed of delivery, digital verification of identity anytime and anywhere in Nigeria through secure and protected channels.
NIMC had earlier developed a business model to liberalise NIN registration process and sold the initiative to the World Bank. The Bank, it was learnt, has finally approved the business model that would allow private and public sector players register Nigerians on behalf of the NIMC.
FEC has also given approval to NIMC to continue negotiation with the World Bank for the execution of the project.
To this end, the commission invited interested and eligible companies including start-up companies, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and Nigerian Representatives of Development Partners (NR-DPs) with proven track record in similar capacity to indicate their interest in the provision of data collection and issuance of NIN.
Currently, NIMC is reviewing applications from companies and agencies and will soon made public, the firms that meet the requirements to be its agents nationwide.
The funding, it was learnt, allows NIMC to register about 100 million Nigerians in the next three years. Before now, Nigeria had struggled to provide NIN to its citizenry, due to financial challenges which limited the capacity of the agency to procure the needed equipment as well as human capital to execute the project.
And with NIMC needing about N50 billion annually to register all Nigerians into this platform, the government, according to investigation, seems incapacitated to release such huge funds to the commission.
The situation, according to LEADERSHIP findings, is made worrisome as Nigerians continue to besiege NIMC registration centres for their NIN, since it has become a major requirement for travelling abroad as well as accessing pension savings.
Recently, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) directed all Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) to recapture the over nine million pension contributors with NIN being a major requirement in the exercise.
Henceforth, any contributor who retires will have to provide his NIN to access his pension benefits. But with the slow pace of NIN registration, pensioners struggle to receive their NIN, and are now besiege NIMC centres for capturing.
Although, the agency has adopted a tactics of partnering with some PFAs, among others, to register their clients on the NIMC platform, the process has not made any significant impact.
When contacted by LEADERSHIP yesterday to react to the new partnership with the World Bank, the general manager, Operations and Corporate Communications of NIMC, Mr. Abdulhamid Umar, said prior to the new deal, the commission had partnered with private and public firms to enhance NIN registration of their workers, adding that NIMC has been responding to such partnership arrangements to increase the number of NIN holders.
However, with World Bank funding, he stated that, it would ease the process of registration, while ensuring that more Nigerians have their identities captured. He called on government agencies as well as private companies which felt they can become agents to approach the NIMC.
He said: “We are liberalising the registration process by recruiting agents from the private and public sectors which will register people on behalf of the NIMC in the ecosystem approach we are adopting. We are aware of the challenges people might be facing now but we are not folding our arms; we are working assiduously to ensure that most Nigerians are captured. The ecosystem approach should perfect NIN registration exercise.”
Meanwhile, the director-general, Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC), Mrs. Folashade Onanuga, has expressed disappointment at the pace of registration, especially pensioners for the NIN, saying, the ongoing data recapturing of pension contributors had made it compulsory to have NIN to access pension benefits.
She believes that NIMC is not well equipped and also lacks enough human capital to register Nigerians, stressing that this could be partly responsible for the slow pace of registering of pension contributors According to Onanuga, “we have entered into a partnership with NIMC to register people who didn’t have a NIN. The PFAs are also there so that as they are being captured, they will proceed to update their data with their respective PFAs.
“The truth is that registration for this number has been very challenging. NIMC does not have enough resources to embark on the project. We requested for about 10 officials from NIMC to register over a 100,000 workforce in Lagos State so that they can do the exercise within the period of two weeks, but we got only one official. How would a single person attend to all the Lagos workers in two weeks?” she queried.
Speaking after the approval of the strategic roadmap for the Identity Ecosystem for Nigeria, the director-general/CEO of NIMC, Engr. Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, explained that the step was in line with the federal government’s efforts to reposition the country’s status in the global economy, towards achieving the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) launched in April 2017.