Speech Delivered by Professor Pantami at the Presentation of NIMC Condition of Service and Salary Scale

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  • September 2, 2021
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It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to the presentation and unveiling ceremony of the Approved NIMC Staff Condition of Service and new Salary Scale. Let me start by appreciating His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his approval of my request and the immense support towards the actualization of this all-important document.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Mr President for the support given to me in driving the digital economy sector in Nigeria. Of reference is the mandate for me to supervise the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the approvals granted by Mr. President to ensure the population of the National Identity Database (NIDB) through the issuance of the National Identification Number (NIN) to registered persons, and to scale up the identification infrastructure. This is in addition to other unprecedented achievements recorded in securing the N25 billion Federal Executive Council Approval for upgrade and replacement of the NIMC Identity Infrastructure, and the implementation of novel initiatives that has increased the registration of persons to approximately 63 million records and counting on the NIDB. Worthy of note is the exponential increase in number of NIN enrolment centres and the automation of the enrolment process, where citizens and legal residents can begin enrolment process online, and download their new improved NIN slip or link their mobile numbers through the NIMC Mobile Application.
This new approved salary scale add to the NIMC personnel cost which was hitherto N5.04 billion to about N16.72 billion; a difference of N11.7 billion approximately. In the new approved condition of service, there are new financial allowances approved by Mr President. The Governing Board and Management of NIMC must ensure the judicious utilization of the approved funds as it is released in phases.
One of the major challenges I came across in the supervision of the NIMC was the poor working condition of the staff. Since the inception of NIMC in 2007, multiple attempts have been made to change the narrative of the staff emoluments without success.
Furthermore, the process towards achieving a functional condition of service for the Commission has been a long and daunting task that commenced since 2010. Successive administrations have made efforts to institute a statutory personnel policy that accentuates the NIMC’s enormous mandate and humongous service offering to the Nigerian people. These previous attempts, although strong-willed, were unsuccessful, leading to disenchantment amongst the Commission’s work force and loss of competent and highly skilled personnel to other agencies and organizations within and outside Nigeria (to countries such as Eritrea, United Kingdom and Canada).
Following the completion of transfer of the supervision of NIMC to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in October 2020, it became my responsibility to oversee and supervise the affairs of the Commission. My first task was to undertake a due diligence and a review process of the NIMC’s Human Capital needs and Technical Audit to ascertain their progress as well as challenges. It was at this point, after series of briefings from the Acting Chairman of the Governing Board, Director General, and top management; and meetings with representatives of the staff union, that I came to appreciate the dire necessity to reform and rejig the NIMC personnel architecture and the urgent need for intervention for upgrade of the National Identity Management System (NIMS).
I compared the NIMC Personnel Policy with what we have in other ICT parastatals under the Communications and Digital Economy Ministry and found out NIMC has the poorest Staff remuneration scheme with a highly sensitive mandate to deliver. Thus, the staff renumeration existing then was not commensurate to the work delivery expected from the Commission.
As you all may be aware, NIMC issues foundation identity, and at the foundation of a digitized economy is the critical role that Digital Identity plays which drives innovation in Banking, e-Commerce, Security, Governance, and Healthcare amongst others. For an evolving digital economy like ours, foundational identity will provide a universal multipurpose system capable of supporting the needs for an inclusive legal identity to ensure citizen’s access to social services and effective undertaking of their civic responsibilities.
The concept of Digital Identity is universal and the role it plays usually depends on a country and its institutional context. In some countries like Estonia, Republic of South Korea and Singapore that are considered as high-income countries, digital identity represents an upgrade from well-established, robust legacy physical identity systems that have worked reasonably well in the past. These Countries now boast of a multipurpose identity (foundational) scheme that covers their entire population and enables them to deliver public services more efficiently. Thus, through innovative approaches put in place to implement the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), and collaboration with all relevant public and private stakeholders, the ICT sector has seen unprecedented growth in the history of Nigeria contributing 17.92% to the total real GDP in Q2 2021, 20.54% higher than its contribution a year earlier and in the preceding quarter.
The first step I took on the Personnel matter, was to advise the DG to set up a committee to review the existing policies at the time. Following the submission of a revised draft Condition of Service by the Committee, I scheduled arrays of consultations with relevant authorities, chiefly with the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, the Minister of Finance, and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation amongst others. It was challenging rallying all and sundry to understand the exigency of the NIMC plight, and to bring everyone on-board considering the economic contractions witnessed in recent years, and of course, other pressing national projects contending for the available but lean resources.
Through persistence, determination and most importantly, the support of Mr. President, we have arrived at where we are today. We now have a new Condition of Service and Salary Scale approved by Mr President for the National Identity Management Commission. The new Condition of Service and Salary Scale increases with over 200% the total NIMC personnel cost, a significant departure from what is currently obtainable. We are indeed grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for the approval and directives to implement the NIMC Condition of Service and Salary Scale.
The NIMC Condition of Service is a comprehensive document that, going forward, would serve, as the machinery through which the Commission articulates and implements its personnel policies and programmes. The NIMC plays a critical role that impacts the life of every Nigerian, and for persons legally resident in the country. In light of the foregoing, it is imperative that the vibrant NIMC staff who are tasked with managing one of the nation’s most sensitive and critical asset are provided with the enabling environment to play this pivotal role efficiently and effectively.
The highlights of the approved NIMC Condition of Service include but not limited to:
Information about the NIMC, its core functions, offices and departments and the reporting structure
Employment eligibility, categories, Grade Level classifications and staff obligations
Categorization and eligibility for leave
Promotion and career progression matters
Pension and retirement benefit for all categories of staff
Robust Staff emoluments, amongst others
Every chapter and sub-heads have been dutifully explained in simple and direct terminologies. Staff members of the Commission nationwide and across different cadres are implored to study and imbibe these conditions, the associated and complementary instructions, and notices and to become familiar with all procedures guiding their professional conduct.
In conclusion, Digital Identity addresses the gaps occasioned by improper or lack of identification in the execution of mandates of Public Institutions or activities of Private Entities as they relate to individuals in Nigeria, who are the main beneficiaries of services and projects designed and/or enabled by government and implemented by such institutions and/or the private sector. As the digital economy sector evolves, now more than ever before, it becomes imperative to lay a strong foundational ID system for the country that can generate reliable and continuous data for policy and decision making, as well as accurate statistics for developmental planning and progress measurement
It is hoped that the approved Condition of Service and the Salary Scale would serve as a veritable tool to re-engineer the operations, structure, and enhance NIMC’s overall functionality, productivity, and performance in line with the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS). As I stated earlier, I implore all staff to ensure diligence, security consciousness and dedication for the seamless operation and integrity of the National Identity Management System (NIMS). I also encourage staff and management of the commission to work harder and shun all kinds of corrupt practices. I equally commend the Governing Board, Director General/CEO, the Management and Staff of the NIMC for steadfastly driving the implementation of the mandates of the Commission as provided for in the NIMC Act 2007.
Thank you for listening. God bless Mr President, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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