National Identity Number To Replace Bank Verification Number

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has said that the Bank Verification Number will be replaced with National Identity Number.

The Minister made this known on Monday during the tour of some Mobile Network Operators who are engaged in NIN registration.

The official visit was necessitated following the license granted to Telcos and other private entities to perform the NIN enrolment exercise.

The Minister first point of visit was the NIMC Enrollment Center in Gwarinpa the NIMC official said the only challenge at the Centre is broadband issue. She requested for stable broadband to enable the centre register more applicants.

The second point of visit was MTN office where the operator said the only challenge is the fingerprint of applicant not matching that of their Bank Verification Number.

In his response, Dr Isa Pantami said, “The challenge is that the BVN records may not be 100 percent the same with NIN but what is most important is that the NIN is the primary identity of each and every citizen including legal residents.

“BVN is a policy of a bank and has not been established by law, NIN is the only mandatory number and the primary identification of our citizens and every other identification is secondary and the NIMC Act 2007 provides that all our citizens must be enrolled and the law gives them 60 days to enroll from the time the law was enacted and a maximum of 180 days and all permanent residents in the country and legal residents that have to stay here for a minimum of 24 months must be enrolled so this the primary identification of all and all other data bases are supposed to utilize this and not for NIN to utilize the BVN because it is the primary one.

“With some of the challenges encountered, NIMC produced the template for registering citizens in passport, BVN and others but some institutions did not comply with the requirements. Even in biometrics, some will just take four, some two, so you cannot harmonize without upgrading and integrating the system ls.

“We discussed with the CBN Governor today on how to ensure that all our citizens with BVN will immediately be provided with the NIN. We are working on that but facilitating the process lies on CBN to make it much easier for our people.

“Globally, a regulator is not supposed to be the operator as well regulator. If the regulator is also the operator, who is going to regulate the operator? What I inherited was that the NIMC was a full regulator of the sector and also the operator. So the global standard is to divorce the regulator to be independent from the operator. For instance, NCC is the regulator of the Telecommunications sector but it does not own any telecommunication company, if it does, most probably, it cannot treat others fairly and justly.

“A regulator should be independent so that they focuses more on regulating. In developed nations, you cannot find a regulator also serving also as an operator. We need to allow the Commission to focus on regulatory work, they set the standards for biometrics registration, measuring of heights, and standard for data to be collected, verify everything. When you enroll citizens as an agent, they must verify it and if they are comfortable and validates, the agent will be allowed to issue your number. Visited five centers and I am very satisfied.

On converting the Bank Verification Number into National Identity Number, The Minister said, “I made a presentation to National Economic Sustainability Committee and I drew the attention of CBN Governor that we need to replace BVN with NIN because the BVN is a bank policy while NIN is a law because it has been established by law so the strength of the law wherever you go is not the same with a policy of one institution.

“Also, BVN is only applicable to those who have bank account but NIN is for every citizen and legal residents in the country.

“BVN is our Secondary database while NIN and the database is the Primary one.

“On the board of NIMC, CBN Governor is a member, DG DSS is a member, Chairman of FIRS is a member, INEC Chairman, Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), National Population Commission and the Nigeria Immigration Service are all members of the board and this is to show you that it is Primary database that every institution in the country should make reference to.

“When it comes to data protection regulations, we are in the forefront in Africa today. The level of security in all our database is 99.9 percent. There is no database that is 100 percent secured, the highest you can go, I think we are there. That is why we came up with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation that we always enforce and this is applicable to the database at our disposal, we take care of it and make sure that security is excellent and we don’t allow anybody to compromise the content because it is a trust from our citizens given to us, Dr. Pantami reiterated.

The Minister said that  that the Federal Government had accredited 203 operators that would help enroll citizens to secure their NIN, adding that the visit was to oversee how the exercise had been.

The Chief Executive Officer of Office Machines Nigeria Limited, Mr. Okechukwu lkpe, one of the accredited operators center that was visited by the minister expressed delight and assured that the center would do its best to meet with expectations.

On her path, Mrs Regina Omenogor, Stock Controller, Gloworld, Abuja, showed appreciation and commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the initiative, adding that a lot people can just  walk in and register.

“It is accessible now and since we work for private organization, we maintain all the COVID-19 protocols as directed by Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and the presidency she said

The delegation included the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Director General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NTDA)