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.