President Buhari wants national identification for voters verification

By Timothy Choji, Abuja

President Buhari says the practice of having multiple modes of identity in Nigeria should be discarded as government cannot continue to use its lean resources to fund such projects.

President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked the stakeholders involved in the identity management system on quick harmonisation of biometric data of all Nigerians for future elections.

President Buhari gave the order at the opening of a roundtable on identity management, organised by the National Identity Management Commission in collaboration with the World Bank.

Declaring the meeting open, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says, “It is the President’s order that the national Identification number be used to authenticate eligible voters in the nearest future and in the areas of access to health insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to the social welfare programmes of this government and for all financial transactions.’’

Lean Resources
He said that the practice of having multiple modes of identity should be discarded because government would not continue to use its lean resources to fund such projects.

“The cost of implementing connected and unconnected biometric linked data bases is increasingly becoming a huge burden and needs to be streamlined going forward, as government cannot continue to fund the unnecessary duplication and overlapping identity functions that further deplete its scarce resources,” he stated.

The Vice President said that government’s policies must be articulated in such a way that its agencies especially those involved in the use of biometrics, collaborate with each other to avoid duplication of data bases.

The Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Ade Ipaye represented Professor Osinbajo at the event.

The Minister of Communication, Mr Adebayo Shittu said that a little has been achieved in the area of identity for Nigerians.

Unified platform
According to him, a unified platform should be created, using Information Communication Technology without delay and pledged the support of his ministry in achieving the task.

“We have the Drivers License, SIM card registration, Bank Verification Number, BVN, and Voters card..The simple challenge we have is harmonising all of these identity management issues so that we have one uniformed platform, which can provide invaluable data base for all Nigerians’ Information Communication Technology as the greatest enabler of all businesses of all governments and all human living should be able to come to the rescue,”  Shittu said.

Deadline
The Minister said a timeline should be fixed by the National Identity Management Commission for the completion of work on a harmonised identity for citizens.

Nigeria’s Country Director of the World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud said that the bank would continue to support Nigeria’s efforts to realise a harmonised and unique identity for its citizens.

Participants at the roundtable comprised representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service and the National Population Commission among others.

Mercy Chukwudiebere