The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has said it would complete the harmonisation of 36 million Biometric Verification Number (BVN) records by the end of June this year. Already, the Commission said it has successfully harmonised 11 million BVN records into the National Identity Database (NIDB), adding that another 25 million records would be harmonised between now and end of second quarter this year. As of May 10, the BVN enrolment records stood at 41.7 million, while enrolments for the National ID currently at 41.5 million, according to NIMC.
The Director-General of NIMC, Engr. Aliyu Azeez, who disclosed this in a webinar presentation, said the Commission has also commenced of Diaspora enrolment for the National ID in 15 countries across five continents.
Nigerians have had to, and are still undergoing different biometric data capture in the absence of a comprehensive national identity database. This has resulted in different agencies of government such as the Nigerian Communications Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Road Safety Corp, Nigerian Immigration Service, among others, holding different biometric databases of Nigerians. However, ongoing harmonisation of these separate databases by NIMC is expected to help the country build the desirable national database of all citizens.
The Commission, however, recently declared that BVN data captured by the banks is the only one found to adhere strictly to the standards of NIMC, hence, the harmonisation. The DG also attested to this in his presentation with regards to the use of BVN for COVID-19 relief by the government. “If you’re doing anything about payments you can go through BVN. But NIN is the foundational identity. BVN and the NIN follow the same standard. When there’s a pandemic, the government can readily use what’s available,” he said. According to the NIMC DG, out of 14 million BVN records received in the past years, only 188,495, which represent 1.3 per cent, were not processed.
The records not processed, he said, had issues such as failing business rules, being data of underaged children, non- Nigerians or due to insufficient fingerprints. Azeez disclosed that to date, a total of 41.5 million Nigerians have so far enrolled for the country’s national identity card. He said the NIMC had increased the figure from seven million in 2015 to the current level, despite the lack of adequate funding to drive the project. The DG, however, admitted that the enrolment process has been slow. According to him, the 41.5 million enrolments into the National Identity Database (NIDB) were achieved in seven years (2012 to date), which means an average of 5.2 million enrolments per annum. He noted that while the estimated population of Nigeria stands at 200 million, the estimated annual population growth for the country is about 2.6 per cent or 5.2 million. “At this rate, it will take a long time to enrol the remainder of the people currently living in the country today and by that time, however, about 292 million more people would have been added, hence the need for a strategy to enrol all the backlog within the shortest possible time,” he said.
He noted that there currently over 100 million Nigerians with no official means of identification. These people, he said, include the poorest and most vulnerable groups, women and girls, less-educated people, people with disabilities, and people living in rural and remote areas.
He added that only about 38 per cent of the population have any form of ID. Highlighting challenges that have slowed down the process, the NIMC DG said there has been limited funding for the Commission’s operation, hence, limited public awareness and mobilization. He said the Commission also faces the challenge of talent retention, which stifles its innovation capability.