One Database For Nigeria And NIN Should Be It

By Adewole Kehinde

On Monday, 8th February, 2021, I was part of the delegation of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami’s working visit to various NIN enrolment centers in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

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

During the visit, Dr. Pantami said that the Bank Verification Number will be replaced with National Identification Number.

To start with, the Bank Verification Number commonly called BVN is a biometric identification system implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria to curb or reduce illegal banking transactions in Nigeria. It is a modern security measure in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 1958 to reduce fraud in the banking system.

The system works by recording fingerprints and a facial photograph of the client.

Issues arose where fraudsters attempted to use the launch of the system to phish for customers’ bank details.

In exercise of the powers conferred on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), by Sections 2 (d) and 47 (2), of the CBN Act, 2007, to promote and facilitate the development of efficient and effective payments systems for the settlement of transactions, including development of the electronic payment systems; the Central Bank of Nigeria hereby issues the Regulatory Framework for the Bank Verification Number (BVN) Operations and Watch-List for the Nigerian Banking Industry.

While the National Identification Number (NIN) is a set of numbers assigned to an individual upon successful enrolment. Enrolment consists of the recording of an individual’s demographic data and capture of the ten fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture and digital signature, which are all used to cross-check existing data in the National Identity Database to confirm that there is no previous entry of the same data.

Once this process is completed the data is then stored with a unique NIN that was assigned to it. The NIN once issued to a person cannot be used again, (that is, it cannot be issued to another person even if the previous person is dead). It is the NIN that helps to tie all records about a person in the database and is used to check the identity verified.

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) established by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007, the NIMC has the mandate to establish, own, operate, maintain and manage the National Identity Database in Nigeria, register persons covered by the Act, assign a Unique National Identification Number (NIN) and issue General Multi-Purpose Cards (GMPC) to those who are citizens of Nigeria as well as others legally residing within the country.

The NIMC Act 2007 provides for the establishment of the NIMC, its functions, powers, establishment of the National Identity Database, assignment and use of General Multi-purpose cards, and the National Identification Number (NIN). The Act also provides the Commission with powers to make regulations connected with its functions. The NIMC Act 2007 provides the repeal of the law that created the former Department of National Civic Registration (DNCR) and the transfer of its assets and liabilities to the NIMC.

Pantami said, “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.
“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.

It is in the course of this that I totally agree with the position of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Pantami. One database for Nigeria and NIN should be it. The quicker and earlier this policy is entrenched, the better for the system to settle down.

The move to replace BVN with NIN is a great idea to be honest, BVN is just limited to banking activities, but NIN cover-all and universal and even more reliable.

I will even suggest that Permanent Voters Card should also be replaced with NIN. One NIN-like database is all we need in developing country like Nigeria; in developed countries people vote with Passports or National Identity cards

Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached via 08166240846 and 08123608662

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