National identity and data capture activities in Nigeria
Source: This Day (Nigeria)
By Chris Onyemenam, DG/CEO, National Identity Management Commission, NIMC.
As government agencies (MDAs) began to migrate from manual records to semi-automated and electronic processing, with the advent of biometric identification and smart card technology, the quest for data capture activities grew along with various kinds of upgrades, notably ‘Government Identity Tokens’, issued by agencies with the ‘sole responsibility’- Driver’s License, (FRSC), in 2009, Permanent Voters Card, (INEC), 2014, Tax Identification Card, (JTB/FIRS), in 2014, Pension Card, (PenCom), in 2013, Residency Cards, e-Passport, (Nigeria Immigration Service), in 2006, National Identity Cards, (NIMC),in 2014, Bank Verification Number Card, by CBN/NIBSS, etc.
As is evident, these are function-specific identity cards by function specific institutions, whether private or public. They do not fit other purpose or purposes, aside from the one that led to its creation. To assume that they do so is to be uncharitably imprudent. They do not ‘cover’ the entire population, (except the national identity card), they just define specific subsets of the population and talk only of eligibility for a service or something- each of these functional identification schemes involve ‘Identity Management’ in one form or the other. It is therefore not difficult to see how (and when it began) MDAs and private sector institutions rationally justify the unending duplication of data capture activities and silos of databases that has bedeviled Nigeria’s recent fiscal history. For anyone, on that basis, to describe all the ‘Government Identity Tokens’ as ‘National IDs’ is, to say the least, absurd, even strange, uncharitable, laughable and forgive me, perhaps pedestrian. It is preposterous to suggest, on that basis, that the national unique identification scheme in Nigeria is no longer relevant. I strongly disagree and do not subscribe either to any form of private sector monopoly around any form of identification scheme- national or functional.
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