The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has bewailed the non-utilisation of the National Identification Number (NIN) database in the country by security operations in the battle against insurgency, banditry and terrorism.
Pantami, who disclosed this noted that although the national database is still a work-in-progress, said that information available can still help to lessen the rising insecurity in the country.
The Minister spoke in Lagos on Monday, on the sideline of the forum organized by the Nigeria Office for Developing the indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS), an agency domiciled in the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
While confirming the rising insecurity challenges in the country, Pantami said “though there are issues of banditry and other security challenges, some questions should be forwarded to the security institutions because what we have done is to establish the database, which is still work in progress. So far, there are over 86 million citizens in the database. What I inherited in 2020 when the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) was transferred to me was only 41 million.
“Note that NIMC was established in 2007. In 13 years, they recorded 41 million and from October 2020 to date, we increased it by 45 million. The database is available and security institutions have power that whenever crime is committed to access the database. There is the Provision of Law, the Cybercrime Act 2015, they have the Power of Lawful Intercept that has been provided by law. They don’t need to come to us.
“From January to date, no security institution has confronted me, the Chairman or the EVC of NCC, that this crime has been committed, we want you to provide information and we denied them. It has never happened.
“Our work is to provide a database, which we have provided, but they have not come to ask for it in tackling crimes. They are not making use of it. The NIN database is there for assessment,” he emphasized.
ALSO, Pantami, while advising Nigerians to ensure they register for NIN and link it with their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards, said obtaining NIN is not optional; it is compulsory by law.
He emphasized that the National Identity Management Act 2007, Section 27, states clearly that obtaining NIN is compulsory for all citizens and lawful residents and “it is not allowed for one to obtain a passport, driver’s license or enjoy any government services without NIN.”
Speaking on the advantage of getting registered with NIN, he said, “Firstly, obtaining it is a provision of the law and the law has been in place before I was appointed as a minister and before NIMC was transferred to me in October 2020. We only enforced it.
“Secondly, NIN has many benefits. You can’t go to any developed country and work there without an identification number. In the USA, you need a Social Security Number; in the UK, you need a National Insurance Number. If you go to India, with all their population, you need a number to be identified with. So, this is not only for Nigeria. In all other countries, developed and developing countries, they all have their identification numbers.”
According to him, establishing a national database is important and necessary towards economic development, national planning and others. “No better planning without a national database. So, our target is to ensure that there is a national database in place, which will be one of the major legacies we are going to leave behind, a central database for Nigeria. We shouldn’t be just estimating our population; we should be factual about it.’’
“The benefits of national ID far outweigh any population figure. When the census is over, the record is kept aside, but through NIN, you have a database, where you will have all the demographics and be able to plan very well. So, we should not limit it to security. Though, security remains a priority and it is because of this that we compromise economic gains sometimes for it. As long as both of them cannot be pursued simultaneously, the preference is security over the economy because without the former, there cannot be the latter. If a country is safe and stable, the economy will grow.”