Monday, 3 November 2014


With the National Identity Management System (NIMS) project in progress, Nigeria has no doubt attained a new profile with the actualisation of the mandate to create a dependable National Identity Database (NIDB) with a valid means of authentication and verification.
Besides the irregular supply of electricity, one of the major shortcomings Nigeria has had to put with as a nation is the inability of its past leaders and government to create a platform for accurate and updatable documentation of citizens data. Although the population of Nigeria is placed at about 170 million, doubt, suspicion and cynicism have cast dark shadows over every census exercise conducted in the country to ascertain a figure. With the new National Identity Management System in place, Nigeria has no doubt recorded a milestone in the global world, because with the exact biometrics and demographics of every citizen populated into the Identity Database, such data would not only have invaluable gains for Nigeria but would aid growth in the various sectors of the economy. The mandate to achieve this was given to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) as recorded in the NIMC Act 2007.

NIMC's Mandate
Before the National Identity Management Commission came on board, there had been other attempts at creating a National Identity Management System (NIMS), (1979 and in 2003) but each effort was thwarted by several inadequacies. However, in 2007, NIMC took over the assets and liabilities of the now rested Department of National Civic Registration. (DNCR), including the personnel in the states and local government offices nationwide. NIMC was straddled with the mandate to establish, operate, maintain and manage the NIMS. NIMC also has the responsibility to register Citizens and Legal Residents as prescribed in the Act; create and operate a National Identity Database; issue a unique National Identification Number (NIN) to eligible citizens and legal residents; issue a multipurpose (smart) card to every eligible citizen; provide a secure means to access the National Identity Database so that an individual can irrefutably assert his/her identity; collaborate with private sector and/or Public sector institutions to deliver on the NIMS; register births and deaths in collaboration with the National Population Commission (NPC); as well as harmonise and integrate Identity Databases in all government agencies to achieve resource optimisation and shared services facilities.

Actualising the Mandate
With this new responsibility, the commission has since commenced enrolment of eligible citizens into the National Identity Database following the Presidential launch of the National Identification Number on IT" October, 2013. To actualise the mandate, NIMC provided the biometric and demography standards, harmonisation and integration framework, interoperability standards as well as the design for the development of a smart I D card and its applets.
Achieving this national assignment called for careful focus and strategic planning, because the end product is not the card issuance to citizens. DG/CEO of NIMC, Barrister Chris 'E Onyemenam, had said that "the belief that once you issue an identity card, you have successfully established a person's identity has to be discarded. What we are doing now is identity management, and a subset of identity management is identity card issuance!' To overcome the pervasive cynicism brought about by the failed past projects, NI MC deployed massive awareness campaign strategies nationwide, and it is still ongoing, to sensitise the public about the differences in the present NIMS project and those of the past. Also, the plan to deploy enrolment centres to the 36 States, the FCT and the 774 Local Government Areas is in the pipeline as NIMC currently has about 400 active enrolment centres nationwide. The deployment of these centres nationwide is advised by the need to facilitate as well as fast-track the enrolment of eligible persons wherever they may reside.
NIMC also recently launched a pre-enrolment portal and a contact call number. The pre-enrolment portal is aimed at easing the stress of enrolment. It allows thousands of eligible applicants to log onto the portal at the same time to pre-enrol themselves, before proceeding to the nearest enrolment centre for biometric data capture. The call centre number, 0700 CALLNIMC or 0700, is for eligible applicants who want clarifications on the NIMS to call and make enquiries.

Major Achievements
The Commission, in a bid to ensure that the electronic ID Card has global acceptance, went through some stringent and rigorous exercises in order to achieve certifications. An outstanding achievements in this regard is the (International Organization for Standardization) ISO 2700 I :2005 Certification by the British Standards Institute (BSI). The ISO 2700 1:2005 certification followed the successful conclusion of an inspection audit by independent auditors appointed by the BSI for this purpose. This was done to ensure that the integrity of the NIMS infrastructure especially as it concerns the National Identity Database is not compromised. Likewise, an Independent Laboratory and field test conducted on the New Smart National Identity Card proved that it is in compliance with the security recommendations and standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The successful testing confirmed that the new e-ID Card can also be used as a travel document (one of the 13 applets on the card) as it has all the security details for individual profiling and identification. Similarly, the Card Personalisation facilities had to pass the User Acceptance Test which was followed closely by the successful testing and validation of the Euro Master Visa (EMV) compliance test. This test showed that the new National Identity Smart Card can be used for transactions at Point of Sale machines (POS) and also for payments and withdrawals on an ATM.
The successful certifications were followed by the Presidential launch of the e-ID Card on August 28, 2014. The e-ID Card, which has 13 applications, forms a key component of the National Identity Management System and heralds a new era for the nation, as its gains are unlimited and would no doubt revolutionise the status quo in the different sectors of the economy. "I am happy that this important milestone of the rollout of the National Identity Management System has been realized today. I am impressed with the quality of the e-ID card and the work of the corporate partners that made it possible" said an elated President Jonathan at the Card launch event.

Gains of the NIMS Project
Obtaining the valid information of every citizen is the pathway to meaningful development. No country can thrive without knowing the population of its people, their level of education, the working class, etc., these are the details required for planning which would facilitate identification and segmentation of individuals by their demographics for policy making and welfare distribution.

In the area of security, it will help to track criminals, block the entry of suspicious elements, including terrorists into the country as well as help in the building of a national security infrastructure. It would be easier for the government to identify non-citizens; the entry and exit of expatriates and ensure that the present 'situation where people come into the country from many porous borders- is checked.

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