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By NBF News
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By Emmanuel Elebeke
THE National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has said all is now set for the commencement of the issuance of new national identity numbers to Nigerians, beginning next month.

Director-General/CEO of NIMC, Mr. Chris Onyemenam who disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos said that the effort was a fulfillment of a mission by NIMC to put in place a reliable and sustainable national identity management system and infrastructure for Nigeria. This, he said, would enable Nigerian citizens assert their full identity as they should.

According to Mr. Onyemenam, the eleven-digit number would be issued to Nigerians through Short Messaging Service (SMS) and electronic mail, adding that the exercise proper will begin August 1 with recipients' biometric data collected for future use, as the first national identity card will be issued on September 30 as part of the commemoration of Nigeria's independence.

In his projection, the NIMC boss stated that after the first 30 months of live data capture, 100 million Nigerians are expected to be in the data base. 'The infrastructure is in place.

Right now, in fixed locations, we are doing the pilot scheme. I can tell you some are capturing an average of 1, 000 Nigerians daily and we are still in the developmental stage.'

Giving insight into the rationale behind the meeting with financial institutions, Onyemenam said that were part of the concession agreement for the second phase of the national identity project, adding that the banks were lenders in the project.

'There is an important need for financial closure. The meeting is all part of conditions that needs to be fulfilled as we go to the pre- commencement of the concession agreement.

We are currently running the period of roll-out and there is need for a tripartite agreement between the commission, third party partners and lenders. This is one step in that direction.

He reiterated that the card apart from being served as national identification number, it would also serve as national identification card to all citizens and all legal residents in the country.

Highlighting the benefits, Onyemenam said 'that is a huge opportunity in the scheme.

The greatest benefits of the national identity management project will be if we can promote financial inclusion through the card. Once a number is issued, it's irrevocable and can never be used by any other person, even in death.'

The NIMC CEO however, said that the apex bank (CBN) is expected to issue a directive next month, mandating all banks in the country to use the national identity number (NIN) as a key requirement for identifying their customers.

He said that the act setting up the commission makes provision for this at some point in time and assured that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), will in 2012 begin to admit the national identity card as one of the critical documents for traveling.

To fast-track the process, he said that the contract of the project programmed to be funded by the private sector, has been awarded to KPMG as project managers to review all the contracts that have been done so far under the national identity management scheme and that Chams and One Secure Card Consortium had also been appointed as front end partners for data capture, personalization of smart ID cards and deployment of smartcard verification devices.

To address the issue of disparate data bases in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), he disclosed that the commission had been mandated to harmonize and integrate biometric linked databases with MDAs in line with presidential directive.

He said that , he added would remove inefficiencies and optimize resources and have the benefit of a centralized digital platform to enhance information sharing.

He however, noted that the pilot of the exercise had been inaugurated in eight states of Bayelsa, Abuja, Kaduna, Lagos, Enugu, and Bauchi among others. He said that the commission had identified government institutions that have a high volume of interface with the citizenry requiring their obtaining biometric data from citizenry.

'What we have done is to identify those government institutions that have a high volume of interface with the citizenry requiring their obtaining biometric data from citizenry. Based on the phasing out of the connectivity with these institutions, 14 agencies have been identified and covered in the first phase of the project.

'These agencies include: CBN, Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), National Health Insurance Scheme, National Pension Commission (NPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).'

Meanwhile, the NIMC boss however said that in the first 30 months, 100 million Nigerians will be issued their identification numbers, while the rest of the populace is expected to be registered by the end of the next 60 months, adding that NIN would soon become a compulsory requirement for bank transactions, pension and insurance activities as well as international passport, and driver licence applications among others.