After months and years of public outcry on Nigeria’s deficient data system, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the transfer of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. This was contained in a statement signed by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mallam Isa Ali Pantami, who stated that the approval for the transfer was based on the President’s consideration for the critical role of the NIMC towards the realisation of the objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a digital Nigeria (NDEPS).
The transfer of the NIMC to the Ministry will strengthen synergy and effective ministry supervisory mechanism to coordinate, monitor and track the progress of the Federal Government’s digital transformation initiatives.
Better late than never you will say, but the NIMC, like many other government parastatals, have received more backlash than praise for their inability to innovate and successfully pivot Nigeria towards data efficiency. From long waiting hours to obtain the National Identity Number (NIN) to the administrative bottleneck attached to the entire process. And while the introduction of initiatives like the Bank Verification Number (BVN) may be a step forward, the NIMC is yet to convince Nigerians of a possible digital Nigeria.
Yet, President Buhari’s intervention is one we should all watch out for. Especially when we remember how, in July, Nigerian Lawyer, Dr Joe Abah stated that the president had appointed him into the “Steering Committee” to drive digital identification, chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha. Dr Abah stated that the task of the committee would be to give all Nigerians a digital identity within five years.
Mr President has appointed me into the Steering Committee to drive digital identification, chaired by the SGF. Our task is to give all Nigerians a digital identity within 5 years. We will integrate other data that govt holds, like BVN, drivers licence & passports, with NIMC’s NIN
— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) July 17, 2020
Following Joe Abah’s announcement, reports of a mobile app surfaced on the news. The NIMC app is one that will allow Nigerians get a digital copy of their ID cards – the app that has mismatched users, fuelling a data privacy problem and affirming the data problem the country is struggling with. This makes it quite obvious that the NIMC is relatively unreliable with data, and there is a clear need to reorganise steps in realising the idea of a digitised Nigeria.
See NIMC’s response to the complaints:
Statement on Commission's mobile app. pic.twitter.com/LkccUD62oj
— NIMC (@nimc_ng) August 17, 2020
…after millions of Nigerians downloaded the app.
Speaking on the progress of the Commission, however, the Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola said the App is part of the Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation programme of the government to modernise the country’s identity management.
We need to get this right.
Michael is a dynamic writer who is still exploring the nuances of life and being human. When I’m not writing, I’m out with friends or spending nice time alone watching movies or TV Shows.
Michael is available on Twitter and Instagram @TheMichaelFaya