Nigeria News

NIMC: Nigeria ready to capture citizens’ accurate identity data

National Identity CardTHE National Identity Management Commission NIMC is gearing up to kick start a data collection exercise which would put the country among the top information managers in the world.

The exercise would see to the electronic enrolment of the over 167 million Nigerians and legally resident foreigners in the country before the end of second quarter of this year.

At the head of the squad to see this happen is the Director General of the commission Dr. Chris Onyemenam who is upbeat that by the time the exercise is in full swing, problems associated with accurate data of nationals and legally residents persons in the country.

He has put up teams and facilities which would ensure that the usual trend of issuing just identity cards without adequate security features, which data may not be read electronically, is reversed.

ICAO security guidelines
This time around, Onyemenam said that several security features and methods were pressed together to give every identity a world class specification in line with the ICAO guidelines.

He addressed a select technology Journalist, last week, during a facility tour of its National Identity Management System infrastructures located at its head office in Abuja and its world-class Data Recovery Centre in Minna, Niger State.

Onyemenam’s argument was that in the past, the focus of all identity registrations was on issuing of Identity cards without relevant security features. To that extent, the current exercise was mandated to issue National Identity Numbers, NIN, which is uniquely assigned numbers to individuals upon successful enrolment.
The enrolment processes consist of the recording of an individual’s demographic data, capture of 10 fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture and digital signature, which are all used to cross-check existing data in the National Identity Database to confirm there is no previous entry of the same data.

Pilot scheme
Though the pilot exercise on the scheme started in Abuja on February 23, 2012, Onyemenam, said the pilot exercise has been extended to each state and now to the 774 local government area, saying that the nationwide enrolment will commence before the end of June.

He said: “By the end of second quarter of 2013, we expect the actual nationwide enrolment exercise will be launched by the Presidency. From the time it is launched, it is our target to have hit 100 million enrollments in 30 months.

“This will be followed by the issuance of cards that are Chip & PIN-based and designed with more than 18 security features embedded, making it difficult for the cards to be cloned by fraudsters.

”We are not perfect but we are completely in compliance with necessary International Standard Organisation (ISO) and ICAO specifications. But we have made much effort to ensure that the cards are not easily forged”

75 percent of IDs in Nigeria, fake
In his presentation, Director, IT and Database, NIMC, Mr. Aliyu Aziz, noted that 75 per cent of Identity cards in Nigeria are counterfeits without any form of verification or authentication while over 100 million Nigerians  have no official identity at all.

Meanwhile, he promised that several forms of Identity systems by private organisations such as banks and many other government agencies that do not communicate together could be integrated as the NIMC’s National ID Management Systems (NIMS) infrastructure will provide a common key for such separate databases.

Aziz noted that, although initial enrolments have started ahead of the official nationwide launch, all the commission was focusing on at the moment was to provide more redundancy and increase availability of its infrastructure.

He said when the exercise fully begins, mobile enrolment services will also be provided to people in the far rural areas to make it convenient for more Nigerians to get enrolled on time.

Infrastructural Challenges
He said: “However, we are facing challenges ranging from infrastructure, power, as evident in the poor power situations in the country. Now we have resorted to powering all our data centres which are supposed to work round-the-clock, with alternative power supply. We also have capacity and funding problem because the private partners are yet to commit like the government has done. You know, this project was conceived as a Public Private Partnership, PPP initiative.

“We also have challenges having to do with geographical reach. However we are going to use mobile registration points to address this. Scalability is another issue, but we have also found a way around it.”

Managing crowd at enrolment centres
Earlier, while conducting the pressmen around the Minna DRC, the Director, Information Technology, NIMC, Mr. Emmanuel Ogungbe, said the execution of the exercise has been designed in a way some cumbersome experiences in part exercises would not recur. He even assured that cases of multiple enrolments would not happen due to the technology involved in the exercise.

“We deployed Automated Biometric Identity System, which allows real-time registration of persons, so with this multiple registration is tracked and identified immediately.

”We have also put in place very effective queue management system to avoid crowding at registration points. In every centre, the entrance doors are different from the exit ones. Yet only a given number of registrants are allowed at the waiting room at a time.

For quick registration, we designed the enrolment system to have double monitors so the registrant would see what is being computed by the registrar and be able to indicate errors or make corrections instantly.

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