Cynthia Okoroafor

Nigerians are once again required to adopt a new government policy involving the issue of identification in Nigeria. Come January 1, 2018, the National Identification Number (NIN) could determine whether or not you are able to travel to another country, how securely you conduct e-business, and the progress of e-government in Nigeria, amongst other matters.

The Federal Government is mandating Nigerians to apply for an identification number with the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC). Failure to do so, means that obtaining or renewing Nigerian passports would be impossible after the aforementioned deadline. This mandate also applies to Nigerians living outside the country, or foreigners who wish to reside or do business in Nigeria.

This identification number is meant to aid with the “harmonisation of data” in Nigeria to promote “security, innovation, social inclusion, and financial inclusion,” as well as bolster e-governance in the country. Following the implementation of the policy, Nigerians will no longer be required to capture biometrics twice, as the NIMC National Identification Number (NIN) automatically qualifies the holder to obtain a passport.

Furthermore, the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede stated yesterday in Abuja, after a meeting held by the database harmonisation committee, that the rationale behind NIN is to encourage the ease of doing business in Nigeria. According to the CG, inadequate data of those conducting business in Nigeria leads to a lack of technologically collaborative efforts between organisations.

On one hand, most Nigerians would probably rush to register for their identification numbers with NIMC, given the importance of the Nigerian passport as a travel document. On another hand, this new government policy wouldn’t make a difference to a lot of other Nigerians.

However, a major  issue to consider is how much we know about the issue being discussed, and its significance and implications for Nigerians…