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The NIN ultimatum -Nation Editorial

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-Has Federal Government finally woken up to the single database challenge?

One of the greatest advantages of the digital age is that it has afforded man the added advantage of capturing citizens in databases. Every serious, upward-looking country or even company today has managed to build a single, all-encompassing database for its citizens, residents and employees. In fact, to run any country today without a comprehensive biometric data base would seem as primitive as doing so without a census.

It must be valid to state that one of the major impediments to Nigeria’s development and growth is the inability to set up her social planning platforms since independence. For instance, Nigeria has not been able to conduct an acceptable population census since independence in 1960; she has depended on approximations and sometimes wild extrapolations which may be far removed from reality. This of course is inimical to socio-economic planning and growth.

If an absence of accurate census figures can be regarded as Nigeria’s Achilles heel, the lack of a biometric database in this electronic age would be something close to living with a total power outage. Just like the census, the quest for a national identity scheme for the country and identification card and number for the citizenry also predates the independence. The Federal Government had made numerous attempts to capture her citizens in manageable data compartments in the last five decades or more without satisfactory results yet.

This is why we think the ultimatum by government giving January 1, 2018, as deadline for Nigerians to obtain their National Identification Number (NIN) or forfeit the right to renew or acquire new international passport is a welcome move. The objective is not only to further drive national identity card initiative being currently handled by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) but to actualise the migration to a single database status.

The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babadede, had disclosed the new directive last week after a meeting of the Database Harmonisation Committee of the Federal Government. Even foreigners are not exempt from the NIN deadline as they would not be able to renew residence permits after due date. It is also expected that various databases littering the electronic landscape will be collapsed into one national database by that target date.

It is a tough task indeed and we hope that the government would meet her own target. So far, the NIMC has only managed to capture about 20 million Nigerians and about 180 million will be expected in the central database in three years, it is stated.

Currently, there are over a dozen electronic platforms capturing biometric data of citizens; there is the Permanent Voters’ Registration card by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the Bank Verification Number by the Central Bank of Nigeria; SIM card registration; birth registration; drivers’ licence, to mention a few.

The importance of a central database system in modern governance cannot be overemphasised: from an improved security tracking to traffic control, economic forecasting and budget planning. There are also financial transactions like banking, insurance and stock broking, among others.

While every measure to enhance Nigeria’s crucial database is welcome, we urge the NIMC to raise its game and improve the speed of penetration. The rate of registration for a project that started effectively about six years ago is rather slow. Apart from further spreading registration points, there is need to increase awareness and publicity to lead Nigerians to the registration points.

Nation

 

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