NIMC, CBN to Lunch 3 Multipurpose National ID Cards for Nigerians

NIMC, CBN to Lunch 3 Multipurpose National ID Cards for Nigerians

by Victor Ndubuisi
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The Federal Government is preparing to issue three new national identity cards in May of this year, providing them to almost 104 million Nigerians nationwide in partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

These new identity cards are described by NIMC and comprise an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card, a social intervention card, and a National ID card that may be used at banks.

These ideas were disclosed in a recent interview on Sunday by Ayodele Babalola, the Director-General of NIMC’s Technical Adviser for Media and Communications. After the introduction, he said, Nigerians should anticipate receiving the three national ID cards in a month or two.

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However, Babalola noted that the launch date in May is contingent upon approval from the Presidency.

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Babalola stated, “We expect the bank-enabled National ID to meet the needs of the middle and upper segments who typically use banks within the next one or two months after launch. Also, activation of the National Safety Net Card to meet the urgent needs for authentication and a secure platform for government services such as palliatives within the next one or two months. The focus will be on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians funded by the current government intervention programmes.”

“Digital/virtual versions of all cards will be available for individuals who prefer digital formats, albeit with limited functionalities. Additionally, ECOWAS cards will be issued on an as-needed basis in collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service,” he added.

The Identity Commission revealed its plan last Friday to create a national identity card that may be used for a variety of financial and social services.

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In line with a statement issued by NIMC on Friday, NIMC, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System are all partners in this project. Its goal is to give customers more options while improving service delivery in a way that is more creative, economical, and competitive.

In further detail, Babalola said that the new card would eliminate the requirement for physical identification, allowing holders to confirm their identity, gain access to public and private social services, encourage financial inclusion for underprivileged Nigerians, empower people, and encourage greater participation in national development projects.

He stated that by the end of December 2023, the commission hoped to have these cards issued to the 104 million eligible applicants registered in the national identification number database.

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He said, “We shall be implementing the following programmes to revive the general multipurpose card issuance; first is the bank-enabled national ID card in collaboration with NIBSS and banks, while the second programme will be a social intervention card under the National Safety Net Card. The third rollout will be an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

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“We are looking at May for the possible launch but that is also subject to presidential approval. It is just to finalise some very important details. The project will be powered by AfriGo, which is under the central bank but everything stops at the table of the President.”

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The CBN introduced AfriGo in January 2023 with the goals of promoting card-based financial inclusion and enhancing data sovereignty.

With a focus on the continent, AfriGO was founded in Nigeria. The term “GO” stands for development, empowerment, inclusivity, and looking forward to the future, while “AFRI” represents culture, ethnic diversity, bravery, innovation, and growth.

This move comes several months after Shubham Chaudhuri, the Country Director of the World Bank for Nigeria, revealed plans to work with the National Identity Management Commission to successfully roll out and register digital national IDs for every Nigerian citizen.

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148 million people of working age should have digital national IDs by the middle of 2024, according to Chaudhuri, who made this bold goal known at a meeting with Bosun Tijani, the minister of communication and digital economy. This would be a major step towards inclusiveness and accessibility.

Chaudhuri said, “So one of the main partnerships we have is working with NIMC to ensure the rollout of the registration so that all 213/220million Nigerians have a digital national ID, beginning, of course, with all people of working age and I think the target for that is at least 148 million people by the middle of next year.”

Babalola said, “On our part, we have done the needful but we also have to wait for necessary permission. It is going to be three different cards, one would be for the smooth process of palliative distribution and social safety programmes. There will be another one that is bank-enabled and people will have the choice to choose based on their needs. Persons without bank accounts will also be able to use it and persons living with disability.

“The National E-ID card can function as a debit and prepaid card for both banked and unbanked individuals using biometric authentication, such as fingerprint and picture, to aid identity verification. It has offline capability that will allow transactions to be carried out in areas with limited network coverage. Banking details at the back of the card with chip and pin as well as magnetic stripe enabled.

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“The National Safety Net Card will be enabled for identity and used for all government interventions and services across multiple ministries, departments, and agencies. Among other capabilities and functionalities, this card will be enabled for the eNaira in compliance with the operational and security standards and interoperable with the existing payment system.

“The card will be used for all government social programmes including cash transfers, agricultural loans, student loans, health insurance schemes, micro contributions, micro pensions, etc, with a validity period of 10 years and will be issued based on the government programmes and existing social register. This will enable real access through electronic money and not cash and uplift 133 million people out of poverty.”

Babalola told our correspondent that the three ID cards would be launched when we asked him to elaborate. Indeed, he declared, “three cards will be launched.”

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