Ten years after the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) began enrolment exercise for the issuance of National Identity Cards to Nigerians, the Federal Government says it is dumping the cards for a more reliable and full-proof digital means of identification in line with global best practices.
NIMC began enrolment exercise in September 2010 and started the issuance of a multipurpose card in 2013 for Nigerians aged 16 or who have lived in the country for two or more years. The ID card contains a National Identity Number, two photographs of the card holder, and a chip containing the biometric information of the holder.
But Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, announced on Thursday that Nigeria would no longer produce cards and that with the migration to digital ID, the country has gone global.
“The world has gone digital, so that card is no more. Our priority now is digital ID, it will be attached to your database wherever you are,” Pantami said.
“So if you can memorise it, wherever you go, that central database domiciled with NIMC will be able to provide the number and every one of your data will be provided,” he said.
This was part of the report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari by Committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation headed by Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, in Abuja on Thursday.
The committee was set up on February 3, 2020 to, among others, review the status of Nigeria’s numerous citizen identification data, including biometrics, held by different ministries, departments and agencies, and propose strategies for the harmonisation of same.
This followed concerns raised by the United States, on the basis of which it imposed an immigrant visa restriction on Nigeria, alongside other African countries.
The committee was also mandated to review the visa restrictions imposed by the US and develop systems and processes that would address the security concerns raised.
The committee reported that Nigeria had fully satisfied two of the six areas of concern raised by the US, two others substantially satisfied, and progress being made on the remaining two.
Aregbesola expressed the hope that the findings, strategies and implementation plans proffered, if fully implemented, would expedite the lifting of the visa restrictions while bequeathing to the nation an enduring identity management system.
“We are just upgrading it such that your DNA too will be there very soon. Even if you are in a car, I will know if you are the one in the car with your DNA, it’s already captured. You are already captured, you cannot run away anymore,” Aregbesola said.
Speaking further, Pantami said the card was only for record.
“What is important is the digital ID and if you notice, we have started using the digital ID on international passport. Once you have the digital ID but not the card, we are 100 percent done with you,” Pantami said.
“With your national ID you are already identified. In the US it is called social security number, the same with UK, and they can control more than 1.3 billion people in about seven minutes.
“So we have found that this card is strenuous, it is forex that is going out of the country and we are in 21st century and that is why we are focusing on national identification number and other identifications by other agencies have been linked to NIMC,” he said.