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Digital National ID: FG to Harmonize All Government-Held Identity Data

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Dr Joe Abah from Ebonyi State into the Steering Committee to galvanise the advancement and expansion of digital identification towards the proper generation and management of data for development. The Committee, chaired by the Secretary-General of the Federation, are tasked to provide all Nigerians a digital identity within the next five years. They will integrate other data that government holds, like the BVN, driver’s licence, and passports, and integrate them with National Identity Management Commission’s National Identity Number, NIN.

Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, said that the project which was approved by the Federal Executive Council back in 2018, is a collective effort of works by government institutions and stakeholders since 2015. According to him, a “three tier institutional arrangement” containing a strategic unit, a steering committee, and a unit for implementation in the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which will provide coordination and governance.

Joe Abah is a trained barrister and solicitor. He has been a consistent voice for the drive for institutional and policy reforms to benefit the common man on the street. He was appointed by Goodluck Jonathan to head the Bureau of Public Service in 2013. He headed the institution until 2017 when his tenure expired.

Dr Joe Abah

The government had last month, announced its desire for the creation of a digital identity for development. This, the Federal Government said is meant to facilitate the development and implementation of a digital identity in Nigeria.

It has been argued that had there been a harmonized pool of Digital Identification, reliable data would have been provided for identifying the relevant people in need of palliative during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

There have been an avalanche of complaints about the NIMC, especially from those who have yet to collect their National Identity Card four or five years after enrolling for it. Also, many have wondered why there are no strong central nationwide database that reveals the identities of individuals.

Joe Abah is a self-proclaimed “fencist” on social media, meaning that he does not pick sides during party confrontations and argument between supporters of political parties. It is a claim that in many cases, infuriate people on either side of the fence.

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