From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
Nigeria’s minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Ali Pantami has explained why his ministry insisted on the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN) in spite of over 44 petitions written against policy and several court cases in the country.
Pantami stated that the policy was made mandatory by law in Nigeria and that it stands to secure the country. He said, “Without profiling, no country will be secured globally… criminals don’t like it, and they have been fighting it day in day out”.
The minister stated this while speaking as a guest lecturer at a convocation lecture of the Federal College of Education Technical Gombe. He said, “when I came up with the policy, they wrote more than 44 petitions against us just to stop it, some them to Mr President some of them even court cases.
“On that policy alone, some people suspected to be criminals took the federal government to at least seven courts all over the country. But today it has become part of our lives, you cannot go and obtain a SIM card without NIN and we are glad that the Joint Matriculation Board (Jamb) has been accepted. Nigeria Immigration Service has also accepted it.
“I do hope that in order to secure our country in the next few years, even if you want to enter a restaurant you must verify your NIN,” Pantami said.
He further added saying, “most of us when we travel abroad, we obtain their NIN before going anywhere or doing anything but when we come back to Nigeria, we don’t have it, you cannot go and work in the USA without the Social Security Number, you cannot work in the UK without the National Insurance Number, you cannot work in Saudi Arabia without their Saned Number, you cannot go to India and work without Aadhaar Number.
“In all these countries this identification is mandatory by law and it is mandatory by law in Nigeria, so, in any situation, we will continue to push for its implementation and for sure we cannot be intimated”.
Speaking on security challenges in the country, the Minister explained that his ministry has been supporting security institutions in addressing the various challenges by way of developing policies and initiatives.
He said, “within four years, I have presented four major initiatives to security institutions in Nigeria of which I strongly believe that if these initiatives are implemented, they will go a long way in addressing a minimum of 80 per cent of the security challenges in the country”.
“I have not in any way been mandated to deploy a technology that secure, but being an ICT student, I have been given the privilege to develop the policy and present to security institutions, so, this is our own part to support the institutions.
“We do the research, we establish centres where innovative solutions will be developed and we do the best we can to share or to propose to the experts for implementation, and in all, I believe they are doing the best they can on that,” Pantami stated.