The Director General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Dr. Chris Onyemenam, has said that one sure way to address the issue of corruption in Nigeria, is through the National Identity Management Scheme, embarked upon by NIMC, to provide a single national identity card for each Nigerian, with dedicated national identity number (NIN).
Onyemanam who frowned on a situation where Nigerians are compelled to register for more than one identity card, said it would enhance corruption for those who have the intent and purpose to do so.
“If an individual can take up different identities at different times, everything else is possible including getting away with murder and that is where the biometric database is going to be extremely useful in ensuring that the work of the law enforcement agencies is made easier,” Onyemenam said.
He added: “Today at the airports, officials ask for photo ID or company ID and sometimes, complementary cards. That is the greatest risk to ourselves. But very soon, with cooperation of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the agencies in charge of security at the airport, we will be able to deploy this National Identification Number Verification tool, then it will become a lot easier to ask for National Identification Number or for the card and it is going to be the same thing at the banks, Onyemenam said.
Commending the recent directive by President Buhari, that Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government should harmonise their biometric databases, Onyemenam said the directive was timely and a pointer to the fact that the present government is capable of fighting corruption in the country, which he said, had eaten too deep into the Nigerian system to the extent that those who are supposed to lead by example, are the ones being exposed of their their past corrupt practices.
According to him, “NIMC has provided for the harmonisation of biometric databases in government agencies and there have been conscious efforts on the part of the management to make this happen.”
He insisted that data harmonisation would address a whole lot of issues about corruption and corrupt practices in the country by phasing out over time, the old and corrupt ways of doing things in the country, create inter-operability platform for legacy databases, using a national universal identification infrastructure to create the connecting link, and to centralise the process of confirming people’s identity within a national frame work.
Giving details of the national identity card project, Onyemanam said once an individual has been issued with a National Identification Number (NIN), the number would become that particular item in the database of every other agency that creates that common denominator by which the confirmation of people’s identity could be ascertained.
He explained that while other government agencies that issue identity cards are talking about people’s identity in relation to their database, which is a function specific or service based database, NIMC is concerned about a database where people’s identities are first and foremost established and given a label. “The label we give is the National Identification Number called NIN. Therefore, in the coming months, that is January 9, 2016, precisely, it is expected that all agencies should request for the NIN as required by law, before any transaction can be carried out,” Onyemenam said.