By Etuka Sunday
In line with Federal Government directive, the implementation of mandatory usage of the National Identification Number (NIN) takes effect on January 1, 2019, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has announced.
At its meeting on September 12, 2018 chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the new National Digital Identity Ecosystem Strategic Roadmap for the enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB).
By that federal directive, therefore, the usage of the NIN becomes mandatory, from January 1, 2019 to access any government service across the country.
This brings into effect the immediate commencement of the implementation of the strategic roadmap for the new Digital Identity Ecosystem as approved by the Federal Government.
According to Engr. Aliyu Aziz, Director-General of NIMC, all federal government Ministries, Agencies and Departments that take records of personnel/provide services requiring the identification of a person, shall from January 1, 2019 mandatorily demand the NIN from citizens to offer any of such services.
Ministries and Agencies such as Education, Aviation, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, National Population Commission, National Independent Electoral Commission, Corporate Affairs Commission, Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Nigerian Communications Commission, National Health Insurance Scheme, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Nigeria Police Force, Security and Exchange Commission etc. must request and verify the NIN as already adopted by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Commission and the National Pension Commission.
Explaining how the mandatory usage of the NIN will be implemented, Engr. Aziz allayed the fears of the public that the cut-off date might pose a challenge to citizens or jeopardise their access to government services, or indeed, put their citizenship in any doubt.
“The process is simple and shall bring no stress to anyone. When the Federal Executive Council says mandatory usage of the NIN from January 1, 2019, it means that from that date onward, the agencies providing services listed under Section 27 of the NIMC Act and Section 1 of the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations 2017 shall demand the NIN from citizens or legal residents before offering them any service.”
Speaking further, Engr. Aziz assured Nigerians that no one shall be denied any government services on account of not having the NIN.
Rather, the mandatory enrolment or collection of data by the above-mentioned government agencies or their licensed agents, along with private sector organisations to be licensed by NIMC in the coming days under the digital identity ecosystem means fast-tracking of the enrolment process in the national identity system.
“We have a mandate to register all Nigerians and legal residents or at least over 95 per cent of the population within the next three years. It does not necessarily mean that NIMC must have offices or enrolment centres in all nooks and crannies of the country, especially given the current economic situation and realities in our country.
“Instead, in its wisdom the Federal Government approved the new digital identity ecosystem which ensures and mandates all government agencies earlier mentioned and private sector organisations to be licensed by NIMC, to collect citizens’ data using guidelines issued by the NIMC and through secure approved channels of communication send such data to NIMC to generate the NIN.
“This Strategic Roadmap, which is supported by the World Bank, puts Nigeria on the path to becoming one of the leading countries in the World with a verifiable and credible identity system, which is the bedrock for planning, financial management and shrewd budgetary scheme,” he explained.
The FEC approval of the new digital identity ecosystem brings into full force the implementation of the provisions of the NIMC Act 23, 2007, which include the enforcement of the mandatory use of the NIN and the application of appropriate sanctions and penalties on defaulters as provided under Section 28 of the NIMC Act.
“NIMC is empowered to ensure strict compliance with the NIN requirement and can demand evidence of compliance from a person or entity; caution a non-compliant person or entity in writing; sanction a non-compliant person or entity by the imposition of administrative fines or institute criminal or civil actions against the non-complaint person or entity,” Engr. Aziz stated.