National ID is the solution to underage voting — Muhammadu Buhari

The federal government has tasked the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) ?to ensure that the national identification number is used to authenticate eligible voters in future.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the charge while speaking at a policy round-table meeting on Identity Management organised by NIMC in collaboration with the World Bank at the state house conference? centre.

The accusation of underage voting, particularly in the north, was one of the few sour points of the 2015 election, but the use of national ID, if adopted, will ease the confirmation of the actual ages of voters.

Osinbajo, who was represented by Ade Ipaye, deputy chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the use of the national identification number would improve security of lives and property, advance service delivery, and fight poverty and corruption.

“It is his Excellency the president’s charge that the national identification number is used to authenticate eligible voters in the nearest future as well as in the areas of access to health, insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to the social welfare programmes of this administration and for all financial transactions,” the vice president said.

“The development of identity programmes in Nigeria will greatly help the nation leverage on its potentials to improve security of lives and property, advance service delivery and fight poverty and corruption.

“Achieving full-scale national identity management will therefore boost our efforts at better tracking the movement of people while minimising issues with external border controls and terrorism.

“Clearly, there are potentially large benefits from integration of the ID programmes of our government institutions. And we must take this advantage to get it right once and for all. As we endeavour to resolve the identity management system challenges, we will also ensure that other forms of identification such as driver’s licence, international passports and so on are aligned and in sync.

“The president has already taken the initiative in recognising the importance of identity and a harmonised system. That is why there was a directive from my office in December of 2015 for all stakeholders to have built independent identity management systems.

“Stakeholders could have built independent identity management system to consolidate, aggregate and integrate their data bases as a way to accelerate and scale up the national identity system so as to offer every Nigerian a unique identifier.”

On his part, Aliyu Aziz said once the commission gets the N5 billion needed to harmonise data from agencies like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), it would meet the President’s directives in 24 months.

Also speaking, Rachid Benmessaoud, the World Bank country director, said identity management would help the government reach more Nigerians on social intervention.

He added that identity management was one of the platforms for development in any country.

President Buhari: National ID Will Complement Voter Card

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said the ongoing national identity registration being carried out by the National Identity Management Commission would be used to complement the nation’s permanent voter cards.

He therefore said any Nigerian who want their votes to count must ensure that they are captured under the scheme.

Buhari spoke briefly with State House correspondents shortly after he registered for the scheme at the lobby of the Presidential Villa’s Council Chambers.

“I think this exercise is very important to confirm our population and those who are entitled to vote, that is those who are 18 years and above. It will complement the exercise of the permanent voter cards.

“So, for those who want their votes to count from whichever party or constituency, they should ensure that they and their families are properly captured,” Buhari said shortly after the Director-General of NIMC, Mr. Chris Onyemenam, presented him his temporary identity card.

Onyemenam later told journalists that seven million Nigerians had been captured under the scheme.

He expressed the hope that the figure would increase very soon with the synergy currently going on between the commission and Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

He said, “On our database, we have a record of seven million Nigerians. In collaboration with other agencies, in the next three months or so, we hope to quadruple that number.

“In the past, the private sector was expected to perform that role, so government did not focus on that. The close to seven million that we have in our database is the product of the pilot scheme that we embarked upon to demonstrate the value of the scheme.

“Now that the MDAs are going to step up the harmonisation, the database will be populated in a matter of weeks.

“As a matter of fact, we are at the stage of migrating the data from the Bank Verification Number and that is about 20million.

“We are truly on course and appreciate Mr. President for that recent directive that biometrics databases in government agencies should be expeditiously harmonised.”

Onyemenam explained that the registration is a continuous exercise, saying all enrollment centres established would remain open forever like branches of banks.

He said his commission was working hard to ensure that enrollment centres were opened in each local government across the country.

He added that efforts were currently ongoing to extend registration to university campuses, primary schools and hospitals.

The NIMC boss expressed confidence that with the cooperation he was expecting from the Independent National Electoral Commission, the coverage would be extended further.