Paper Presented by Professor Pantami on the Occasion of the 3rd Edition of the National Identity Day

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  • September 16, 2021
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Paper Presented by Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy ON THE OCCASION OF THE 3RD EDITION OF THE NATIONAL IDENTITY DAY 2021 HELD AT STATE HOUSE BANQUET HALL, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ABUJA. Thursday, September 16, 2021


  1. Firstly, I wish to felicitate with President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and indeed all Nigerians on this auspicious occasion of the 3rd edition of the National Identity Day, 2021. The choice of theme for this year’s edition: Identity, a tool for Sustainable Digital Economy and National Security, is not only apt but timely.
  2. Only two years ago, Mr. President granted approval for Nigeria to join the Coalition for the declaration of 16th September as International Identity Day. On the strength of that approval and on 16th September 2019, Nigeria blazed the trail by becoming the first country in the world to commemorate 16th September as National ID Day. Special appreciation to Mr President for this and for giving us all the support needed to drive the growth of the Digital Economy Sector.
  3. We have recorded unprecedented achievements in the mandate given to us by Mr President to supervise the NIMC since October 2020. Through the support of Mr President and the innovative approaches put in place to implement the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), as well as 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, which is the highest contribution the sector has ever made to Nigeria’s GDP.
  4. The official adoption of 16th September as a day to commemorate ID Day marks a watershed in our collective resolve to promote the relevance of Digital Identification in Nigeria. Each time we celebrate this day, we affirm government’s promise to support the development of digital identification, we bear witness to the enduring power of identity management to drive social inclusion and we recall how unique ID permeates every spectrum of our national life.
  5. The purpose of the ID Day is to raise and promote awareness and actions on the important role identity plays in empowering individuals and enhancing their access to services and the formal economy. All over the world, the provision of digital identity is increasingly viewed as a key mechanism for driving national development goals. As more people, devices and personal information gets online, the ability to prove we are, who we say we are and establish trust with each other becomes a matter of urgent necessity.
  6.  As a country, we seek to use efficient ways to deploy national
    identity trust systems not only to deliver government services in areas such as social welfare, taxes, voting, health administration, security, and education but also to build an indigenous digital economy that will stimulate the private sector and make it thrive. With an efficient, secure, accessible, and reliable National Identity Infrastructure we can empower Nigerians to exercise their rights and responsibilities fairly and equitably, thereby driving social inclusion. Hence, the unprecedented approval of N25 billion by
    the Federal Executive Council for upgrade and replacement of the NIMC Identity Infrastructure. The Board and Management of NIMC must ensure judicious utilisation of the approved funds when released, and also follow due process accordingly.
  7. At the heart of today’s celebration is the need to raise awareness and sensitize the citizenry about the pivotal role of digital identification in Nigeria. Our enthusiasm to build a local digital economy, curb widespread economic and social exclusion is hinged on the necessity to assign every Nigerian and legal resident with a unique identity.
  8. In this regard, and under our supervision, NIMC has achieved great strides in the drive to enrol every Nigeria and legal resident for the issuance of the National Identification Number (NIN). The Commission has achieved this through the scale up of Enrolment and Registration Centres (ERCs) across the country and in the diaspora. We have implemented novel policy initiatives that
    has led to tremendous increase in the registration of persons to over 63 million records and counting on the National Identity Database (NIDB). Shortly, you will witness the launch of some novel identity solutions that are targeted at easing the enrolment process and bringing to the fore, the ingenuity of Nigerians to address local challenges with ‘glocal’ solutions, and the willingness of this administration to pay attention to and work with all stakeholders interested in promoting the growth of the digital economy and the
    country at large. All 3 innovative solutions being launched today are novel, not just in Nigeria, but also across the African continent and this reflects the commitment of Mr President to promote indigenous solutions that will also stand out globally.
  9. As part of our efforts to make it easy for citizens to link their NIN to their phone numbers, we developed a mobile app that allows users to do so without having to physically visit any telecom company. It also enables users to download the improved NIN slips and use mobile IDs as a valid and secure means of identification.
  10. The tokenization solution is in line with the efforts of the Federal Government to enhance Data Privacy and Data Security of citizens and legal residents. It prevents verifiers and third parties from storing raw NIN of users. Rather, it provides a time-bound virtual NIN that is specific to the verifying entities. We will transition from the current raw NIN verification approach to one that uses tokenised virtual NINs, in line with the Revised National Digital
    Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration.
  11. Furthermore, to circumvent the challenges that resulted from the COVID19 pandemic, we developed a contactless Android biometric enrolment system that enables Nigerians and legal residents to obtain NINs after providing their biometrics through a process that is swift and contactless. It will also support us in enrolling users that are in remote areas and where there are power and networking constraints.
  12. The NIN is a public good and it is vital for driving development. Identity management has evolved across the globe and the ability to prove one’s identity with the NIN is critical for Nigerians to participate in economic, social, and political life.
  13. The NIN is our digital ID that creates a foundation of trust that not only ties all records about an individual uniquely in the NIDB, but also, it is the primary identifier used to establish or verify an identity. Nigerians of all ages, including legal residents are eligible to get enrolled and be assigned with a NIN. With it, an individual can prove and assert his or her identity in an instantaneous, electronic, paperless manner, anytime or anywhere, and by extension enable government to administer its programs ranging from health, education, security, welfare etc. with accountability and transparency.
  14. Let me restate at this juncture the high expectations on NIMC as the key government institution and apex body charged with fostering an orderly development of the identity management sector in Nigeria. NIMC must redouble its efforts and intensify its regulatory role.
  15. I am seizing this opportunity to invite, and I urge all functional data providing agencies of government, as well as all government institutions offering services to harness resources, harmonize and align their operations with NIMC. The National Identity Management System (NIMS) must, now more than ever, be accorded the serious attention it deserves and be accelerated with a view to expanding enrolment points, strengthening of the National Identity Management System (NIMS) Infrastructure, ensuring compliance with the requirement for the mandatory use of the NIN for access to services and the authentication and verification of identity.
  16. This occasion cannot end without mentioning the great work by the Management and Staff of NIMC in ensuring that the nation has a credible, accurate and reliable identity database. I commend their efforts. The NIMC, despite lean resources has remained focused on the achievement of its mandate. Mr President has recently approved a new condition of service and salary scale which increases with over 200% the personnel cost of the Commission. Special appreciation to Mr President in that regards and with more
    support from Mr. President, the Commission will deliver on its mandate and accelerate government’s medium- and long-term strategic goals.
  17. Finally, let us not forget the purpose of this day. We must continue to reinforce the need for every Nigerian to have a digital identity, irrespective of social class or economic status. We must sustain the momentum by creating awareness and sensitizing the public.
  18. I thank you for listening and I wish all Nigerians a happy National Identity Day. May the Almighty bless Mr. President and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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