Nigeria’s national identity programme will not succeed unless there is strong political commitment on the part of government backed by adequate funding, the Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz, has warned.

Speaking at the 6th General Assembly of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council (NTRC) in Kaduna, Engr. Aziz said “like any government reform, political will and strong leadership are required to implement the national identity project.”

In his paper titled “Importance of National Identity to Nation Building,” Engr. Aziz stated: “without strong political leadership and commitment, financial resources and stakeholder collaboration, the national identity programme will not be successful and sustained.” Saying he looks up to the traditional rulers for support and fatherly advice, he informed the gathering that all modern economic services are done digitally and rely on good identification to promote economic growth and opportunities.

“For Nigeria to enhance governance, help its people rise out of poverty, restore growth and participate in the digital economy, we need a unique digital identification platform that is linked to functional identity registries for accessing services,” he stated. While explaining the importance of national identity to Nigeria’s existence and growth, he stated: “There is a strong correlation between inclusive identification and nation building and this is central in effective delivery of important services to the people.”

He also stressed that proving “who is who” is critical to accessing services physically and electronically, including identifying the targeted beneficiaries of a programme, project or scheme. According to. Aziz, a robust digital identity for Nigeria will lead to access to finance, gender equality and empowerment, access to basic health and educational services as well as child protection. Other benefits include migration and labour market opportunities, reduction in the cost of governance, better government service delivery and improvement in the enforcement of law and order thereby leading to improved security.

Highlighting some of the challenges NIMC was facing in executing the national identity project to include poor funding, inadequate mobilisation and limited awareness, among others, Engr. Aziz appealed to the royal fathers to help with awareness and mobilisation as well as assisting their subjects with source documents to enable them enrols for the National Identification Number (NIN).

He reminded them of some of the government or social services for which the NIN must be presented and verified, which includes application and issuance of passport, opening of bank accounts, purchase of insurance policies, all land related transactions, payment of taxes, admission into schools, voter registration, pension transactions and all relevant government services.

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