The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) says it has enrolled seven million Nigerians on its database out of the 13 million estimated for the pilot scheme.
Mr Chris Onyemenam, the Director-General of the commission, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Onyemenam said the commission’s facilities had the capacity to register 300 million citizens, urging Nigerians to utilise the opportunity and register for their identification cards.
According to him, the Federal Government considered it necessary to centralise the process of ascertaining the identity of every Nigerian within a national framework.
“Right now in the database, we have about seven million Nigerians, which is quite poor because there have been a deliberate effort by NIMC, through third parties, to do better than this record.
“These third parties have not been able to deliver in four years; as such, by February this year, those contracts were terminated.
“So, if we did not do what we had done and were waiting for them, NIMC would have nothing in the database.
“It is from the harmonization that we hope if concluded soon, NIMC will get the volume of data to make up for the gap that had been created by these concessioners.’’
Onyemenam also debunked allegations that the cards were only given to elites and top government officials.
He, however, explained that the cards were issued to some VIPs for the sole purpose of awareness, adding that it was a form of enlightenment to showcase the need for Nigerians to enrol
The director-general said that many Nigerians had collected their cards, including those who enrolled this year.
He said that this was due to the new technology being used by the commission, which made it easier to mass produce the cards at regular intervals.
“NIMC has provided for the harmonisation of biometric databases in government agencies and there have been conscious efforts on the part of the management to make this happen.
”There is a data gathering process that is based on international standards and requires that a minimum level of quality of data captured is emphasised across board.
“We are creating an identity for Nigerians with a number that can be recognised anywhere so that with that number, the data of the individual can be seen when necessary.”
Onyemenam said the commission would ensure that every citizen duly registered, obtained an identification card recognised within and outside the country.
The NIMC boss assured all Nigerians that their cards would be produced and distributed to them.
”We have started distribution of the cards to Nigerians nationwide. We started with Abuja, Lagos and Rivers states. Other state offices are ready for deployment and will start issuance soon.’’
He emphasised that all Nigerians who had enrolled, would receive their cards.
”To avoid crowding the centres, NIMC will send an SMS to all enrollees whose cards are ready.
“Whoever receives such an SMS, should go to where he or she registered with their NIN transaction slip to collect his/her card,’’ he said.