Ahead of the January 1, 2019 deadline given by the Federal Government for the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN), Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz has held wide ranging consultations with the leadership of mobile network operators in the country under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) led by its Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo.
Aziz said he considered the meeting with ALTON to be central in the implementation of the recently launched
Digital Identity Ecosystem spearheaded by NIMC given the associations members, customers and subscribers who currently run into nearly 150 million.
ALTON is the umbrella body of all mobile operators in Nigeria, such as MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile, Airtel, 9mobile and Ntel. As of September 2018, the telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), stated
that there were 143 million mobile phone subscriptions or active connected lines in Nigeria.
Against this background, Aziz explained: The Digital Identity Ecosystem is a sustainable scheme where any of the
data collecting Government agencies or licensed private agency can enrol and capture data from citizens and legal residents and send to the NIMC backend.
Speaking further on the meeting with ALTON, he said the MNOs in Nigeria “are already undertaking data capture subscribers information including biometrics for any SIM to be active. This information is sent to a central
database managed by NCC.
“The NCC being a stakeholder in the identity ecosystem is required by the NIMC Act and Regulation, to ensure the use of the NIN for access to services including SIM utilisation. Of course, NCC is a key partner in the Identity Harmonisation process, and was one of the earliest government agencies to handover to NIMC data available to it from SM registration for warehousing by NIMC in the National Identity Database,” Engr. Aziz affirmed.
Therefore, the meeting with ALTON was not only much desired and important; it was a natural way to also prepare the mobile operators, who are critical stakeholders, towards the January 1, 2019 deadline for the mandatory use of the NIN, he stated.
ALTON Chairman, Adebayo had earlier chronicled the fears of the association and its members against the backdrop of inadequate enrolment centres across the country pursuant to the issuance of NIN.
However, he pointed out the importance of the national identity system when he stated: A credible national identity database enables effective planning, increases financial inclusion by easing access to financial services, enhances the electoral process and helps improve national security.
He stated however, that the absence of a harmonised, credible and pervasive national identity system in Nigeria has resulted in a plethora of identity databases such as the drivers register maintained by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the voters register (managed by INEC), and the SIM by NCC.