The digitization attempt by the NIMC is posing a threat to data privacy


The National Identity Commission (NIMC) recently announced it was digitizing its records and allowing Nigerians download their national identity cards. The update was shared by the Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola while briefing State House Correspondents, and it is said to be part of the Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation programme of the government to bring the country’s identity management in line with modern standards. The reality is, the government failed woefully in its earlier attempts to register and create a digital database for its citizens.

While a few Nigerians have come to expect certain frustrations tied to the federal government in honoring obligations to the electorate, the government has always made Nigerians believe that the perfect solution is on the way. In July, Nigerians took to social media to express the frustration that has been tied to obtaining a valid ID card in Nigeria following the news update that the NIMC was planning on digitizing the entire process.

Nigerian Lawyer, Dr. Joe Abah had shared that the president had appointed him into the “Steering Committee” to drive digital identification, chaired by the SGF. Dr. Abah shared that the task of the committee would be to give all Nigerians a digital identity within 5 years.

As highlighted in the NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) Act of 2007, the national identification number (NIN) is mandatory for most transactions in Nigeria. Every citizen and legal resident is expected to enroll and obtain theirs. Most Nigerians don’t have one, and the few that have all complain about one thing – the process involved in obtaining one and the incompetence of the commission.

Speaking about the shared update, Aregbesola shared that the new digitization of the entire process will capture both DNA details of Nigerians as he boasts that this update is the next big thing for the commission. The update also came with a supposed mobile application that allows preregistered users to complete the process on their mobile phones and print out the details to conveniently make the plastic ID cards for themselves.

Though there has been no official statement to support the launch of this app by the NIMC, the commission recently announced plans to dump plastic identity cards for digital ones requiring only the identification numbers of its holders. The news of the app was, however, shared by Twitter users and attention was geared towards downloading the app and using it for the said purpose. The application has however provoked a plethora of negative feedback from Nigerians on social media platforms. While some users were successful in downloading their digital identity cards, others lodged various complaints about the flaws on the NIMC platform.

These discrepancies opened another conversation on the competence of the commission, the security of Nigerians, and their data, as many are calling that the NIMC has done a terrible job in going digital if they have gone at all.

It is part of the NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) Act of 2007, to document Nigerian citizens and legal residents in the country. However, it seems that their inabilities which jeopardizes the security of interested citizens could also discourage Nigerians who are even yet to register for the document.

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