Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed confidence that the newly introduced Electronic National Identity Card project, would not only help the country in tackling her security challenges, but also be a veritable tool for “intelligence gathering in the country.”
Obasanjo, who gave the assurance at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, while receiving his National Identity Card from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), said the scheme was initiated when he was the Military Head of State in 1979.
The former President added: “What we have now is what we wanted to do in 1979 but not as complex as this one and also not as sophisticated as this. Although we are getting the card late, we are getting the best that technology can offer”.
“When the National Identity Card scheme was first initiated in 1979, it was estimated then, to cost the nation the sum of N16m to produce the cards for every Nigerian of 18 years of age and above “But the project is now costing the country “billions and billions of naira, because of the sophistication of the card.”
Obasanjo, while receiving the card, said “not many Nigerians are aware that he has three Identity Cards (ID cards), which according to him included his International Passport, National ID card and “of course, my Owu tribal marks’’, (six marked lines on each side of his cheek).
“It is not funny that I’m collecting the National Identity card at a time that I’m unemployed and unemployable”, he added.
Obasanjo, who spent 12 minutes to activate the card and its applications, stated that if he, with his status, could spend such a lengthy time to complete processing, “then, I wonder what the fate of the people would be when they make themselves available for the bio-metric capture of their data.”
He also queried how much of the functions inherent in the card would be beneficial in Ibogun village (his place of birth for example) and at what cost to them.
“I have my worries and I always express my feelings. I have got special treatment, but how will it be for someone in my village to be captured?” he questioned.
Obasanjo also wanted to know “How much of this functionality in the card will be useful to him and how much will be paid, knowing that poverty is still ravaging the rural dwellers. These are issues you (NIMC officials) will have to address.”
Responding, NIMC’s Director – General, Chris Onyemenam, assured the former President that his observations had been noted, disclosing, that the NIMC was already strategizing on how to use mobile and vehicular centres as well as canoes to register people in the “hinterlands and the creeks”.