As the issue of digital identity takes centre stage in Nigeria, the Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz, fielded questions from journalists on the journey so far in enrolling Nigerians and issuing the National Identification Number (NIN), and the way forward. Excerpts:
What is your agenda and areas of focus for your second tenure?
The mandate of NIMC hasn’t changed and my focus remains to ensure that every person is enroled and issued a unique national identification Number (NIN) also known as a digital identity.
We have a population of about 200 million and the commission’s target is to register all within the next 3-5 years. Whilst pursuing this target, the commission would also work to expand, extend and strengthen the infrastructure that is enabling the enrolment and identity authentication to happen.
What specific achievements and challenges faced during your first tenure? What plans do you have to record more achievements and address those challenges you encountered?
One of our greatest achievements was increasing the enrolment figures from 7 million in 2015 to 39 million by the end 2019. As at today, we have reached 41 million records by sheer determination and hard work. I owe all of this to the great staff of NIMC who pushed themselves beyond their limits to see this happen.
The challenges we are facing are still the same challenges the Commission has been facing for years. Power issues at our Enrolment Centres (ERCs), Sensitization and awareness to the general public, inadequate enrolment centres and enrolment devices, maintenance and support of our IT infrastructure, consumables etc.
All of these issues affect our operations and require a lot of funding to address. We will continue to do our best to address them in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders, Government and with the help of the media.
How prepared are government and NIMC to meet the demand for enrollment for the National Identification Number nationwide?
Government and NIMC have made significant stride to scale up enrolment for the issuance of NIN.
In September 2018, The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a strategic roadmap for accelerating the development of digital identity in Nigeria using the ecosystem approach (leveraging the capabilities and facilities of public and private sectors to speed up enrollment.
Government has also got commitment and approval from three development partners – the World Bank, Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) and the European Union (EU) – to fund the roadmap implementation in the tune of $433 million. You can obtain a copy of the roadmap on the NIMC website.
The project preparation is currently ongoing and full implementation was originally scheduled to kick start by June 2020, but with the COVID 19 pandemic, we may extend to September or December this year. Our target is to have at least 4000 enrolment centres across the nation: one enrolment centre per 50,000 people.
What is your advice to Nigerians on enrolling for the NIN?
The Federal Government has approved NIN as the only valid means of identification for government services by Law. As a foundational ID, everyone must register and obtain a NIN. Kindly do so to avoid any restrictions on use or access to government services in the future.
The process takes less than 10 minutes and can be further reduced if you pre-enrol online. Visit www.nimc.gov.ng for more details on enrolment. The law provides punitive measures for those who fail to comply with or disregard the law.
NIMC is collaborating with a number of government institutions including JAMB and other examination bodies, which are making the NIN a prerequisite for registration for their respective examinations. What plans do you have in place to enrol eligible and intending candidates in time for those examinations?
With NIN as the valid means of ID for government services, it is the responsibility of every individual on the soil of Nigeria or of Nigerian descent to register and obtain the unique ID. Enrolment commenced since the year 2012, which is 8 years ago; and the NIN is issued instantly upon complete registration.
Eight years is enough time for people to present themselves for registration in accordance with the NIMC Act. We should not always wait for the last minute or for government to resort to aggressive enforcement and punitive measures for people to do the right things. NIN is issued free of charge and to everyone, children and adult alike. Do not wait to be told you cannot transact or access service to register.
You recently raised concern about poor funding of NIMC programmes by the Federal Government. Has the funding situation improved, given the apparent increased pressure on NIMC to enrol Nigerians for the NIN?
NIMC through the Federal Government has obtained funding to accelerate digital identity enrolment within the next 3-5 years. The funding covers digital ID enrolment, issuance and usage; Strengthening the enabling law, security, privacy, data protection and cybersecurity mechanisms; as well as strengthening the IT and other back-end infrastructure.
There is still need for funding on the card aspect of the programme as well as on the other regulatory functions of the commission. We are consulting with the Federal Government on these aspects.
What will you say is the rationale behind the Federal Government making the NIN compulsory for government services?
The NIMC Act of 2007 which is the legal framework on which the Commission is operating stipulated that the National Identification Number is a unique identifier for all citizens and legal residents; and must be presented and verified to confirm your identity before other functional agencies can provide service.
This is the law and Government is simply reminding us to comply and working to ensure the enforcement of the provisions of the law. It is not a new thing or new policy. Please feel free to read the NIMC Act and in particular sections 26, 27, 28 etc.
You have explained a number of times that NIMC’s focus now is the enrolment and issuance of the NIN. At what time do you think the National eID card could be issued to those that enrolled?
The Commission is currently issuing the National ID card but on a low scale due to the capacity of the card personalisation bureau deployed to pilot the scheme in 2014. We are still working out strategies to scale up the card production and issuance with the help of the Government and in future with the private sector.
NIN is your identity and is sufficient to prove or assert your identity anytime, anywhere. The Commission is also aware of the demand by the public for the physical token (ID card) for a number of valid reasons. Please bear with us as we do what is necessary to issue this card to those who are in need of it. Also, NIMC is modifying the NIN credential to address the physical token request. All these new initiatives are in the works and would be released soon.
Many Nigerians who have the eID cards seem to have difficulty on how to use the card for financial transactions. How can the card be used for financial transactions and what are the security features in the card?
The Payment applet on the card is usually activated before the card is issued to the rightful owner for use. The card carrier contains the information on the use of the card for financial transactions. In a simple term, the card functions as a debit card (with virtual account) where money can be loaded and used on Point-of-Sales (POS), Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and other payment channels including the web.
The card has 18 security features and has been ranked as one of the most secured National ID cards in the world. Some of the security features can be seen with the eyes (ghost image, hologram, coat or arms, etc), while others require some special tools and light to see.
There was a recent news item on a court order stopping activities related to Nigeria’s national identity card system. What can you tell us about that and how is it being resolved?
The court case you are referring to is between Chams PLC and MasterCard. Unfortunately, NIMC was included as a Co-defendant and that affected some of our card operations. Because it is still an ongoing court case; therefore, I will not be making any further comments on the matter. We will await the outcome of the court proceedings and ruling.
How are you repositioning NIMC to increase awareness creation to sensitize Nigerians about the importance of the National Identification Number (NIN)?
Nigeria is a big country with a huge population. Creating awareness and sensitizing about 200 million people is not an easy task and requires a lot of resources and logistics to achieve.
Even though we collaborate with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Voice of Nigeria (VON), and all other national media outlets and companies to enlighten the general public, we still need to do more.
As stakeholders in the ID sector, we need the support, partnership, cooperation and assistance of all media companies and outlets on this national assignment. The best repositioning is to start with our communities, local governments and regions to share the news and speak to the people in the language they best understand on the ID need and use. Let’s join hands to bring everyone on board.
NIMC has extended registration to Nigerians in the diaspora. How have those in the diaspora welcomed this and what is the level of diaspora enrollment so far?
Diaspora enrolment was greatly received by the Nigerians in other countries and it has been going well since the launch. Enrolment is happening in over 15 countries across the world, with more countries to come on board in the near future. We are optimistic that more Nigerians will turn up to obtain the NIN; since it is a requirement for the application of a new and renewal of an expired Nigerian passport.
NIMC, in collaboration with the Federal Government declared 16 September as National Identity Day. What is its significance to the Nigerian society on a global perspective?
Nigeria formally launched and celebrated as the first country in the world to adopt and declare 16 September as International Identity Day. The event is a culmination of an enormous collective effort, which began in April 2018 when our country Nigeria successfully hosted the 4TH Annual Meeting of the ID4Africa Movement here in Abuja and joined a global coalition for recognition of September 16th each year as International Identity Day.
That call was embraced with tremendous support and over 1500 individual signatures endorsing the proposition were collected from delegates which cut across 81 countries, including 41 African nations. The endorsement represented nearly 99% of the participants that attended the Conference in Nigeria.
To formalize Nigeria’s membership of the global coalition, the National Identity Management Commission, sought and obtained approval from the Federal Government through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Providing legal identity to all including birth registration is one of the global SDGs target, specifically SDG 16.9; and Nigeria is endorsing and supporting this achievement by declaring 16 September each year as National Identity Day as a way to create the awareness and get the buy in required.
Join Inlaks Live TechTalk Edition on Hyosung’s Revolutionary MV 100 ATM Model
Inlaks, the leading Information Technology Systems Integrator specialised in the deployment of highly scalable ICT Infrastructure solutions, will on Monday September 28, deploy the second edition of its virtual thought leadership segment called “TechTalk”.
Techtalk which was formerly a pre-recorded segment hosted on the organisations YouTube channel has now transitioned into a live virtual event across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The virtual edition kicked off in August 2020 with a segment on Financial Crime Mitigation, honing in on the superiority of Temenos Financial Crime Mitigation Solution with Emmanuel Orororo, Sales Manager, Financial Business, Inlaks.
The 2nd edition of Tech Talk promises to offer the same measure of insights as it dives into the world of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with a focus on MoniValue 100, a revolutionary ATM solution by Hyosung TNS. The MoniValue 100 is especially adapted to the present times as it is a cardless, contactless and changeless solution.
Join this virtual event live by logging on to any of the social media pages below on Monday, 28th September 2020. YouTube: Inlaks, Facebook: InlaksNg, Twitter: Inlaks, Instagram: InlaksNg
Inlaks is a leading system integrator in Sub-Saharan Africa. The company partners with leading OEMs in the technology industry to provide world-class information technology solutions that exceed the needs of its customers.
Over the years, Inlaks has built a reputation as the foremost ICT and Infrastructure Solutions Provider, helping customers effectively seize new market and service opportunities.
With an impressive customer base that includes six Central Banks in West Africa, 18 of the 24 banks in Nigeria and other major customers in the West African region, Inlaks has become the dominant Information Technology Company in Africa.
Inlaks’ customers cut across various segments including Banking, Telecommunication, Oil/Gas, Power, Utilities and the Distribution sectors of the economy. For more information, please visit www.inlaks.com
Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports
There were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) detections over a 7-month period in Nigeria, according to Kaspersky security solutions.
Elsewhere in South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections, showing the growing desperation of the attacks.
The company reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programs (pornware, adware etc.) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.
These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the “grey zone” programmes that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.
Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are programmes that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves.
However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way. For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetising software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.
calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, Kaspersky researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware.
They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in 7-months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.
“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the programme is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals. The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programmes on their device and that in some cases, such programmes are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads,” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.
By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware.
Evaluating results over the same 7-month period in Nigeria, there were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much.
Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense. In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections.
Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances, Kaspersky said.
Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech
Web giants including Facebook have struck a deal with advertisers on how to identify harmful content such as hate speech, after an impasse over the issue which led to boycotts of the platform.
The agreement — which also included Twitter and YouTube — laid out for the first time a common set of definitions for hateful statements online.
In July, hundreds of advertisers including big-name consumer brands suspended advertising with Facebook as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, saying the social-media titan should do more to stamp out hatred and misinformation on its platform.
And earlier this month a group of celebrities — including Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry — stopped using Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, to push a similar message.
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) said in a statement Wednesday: “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in collaboration with marketers and agencies through the Global Alliance for Responsible Media have agreed to adopt a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content and to collaborate with a view to monitoring industry efforts to improve in this critical area.”
The alliance was founded by the WFA and includes other major trade bodies.
According to the WFA, key areas of agreement included applying the alliance’s common definitions of harmful content; developing reporting standards for such content; establishing independent oversight; and rolling out tools for keeping advertisements away from harmful content.
The WFA said that properly defining online hate speech would remove the current problem of different platforms using their own definitions, which it said made it difficult for companies to decide where to put their ads.
“As funders of the online ecosystem, advertisers have a critical role to play in driving positive change and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the platforms on an action plan and timeline in order to make the necessary improvements,” said Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA.
Luis Di Como, executive vice-president of global media at Unilever, a major advertiser, sounded a note of cautious optimism.
He said: “The issues within the online ecosystem are complicated, and whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.”
Speaking in July, Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he remained adamant that the company did not want hate speech on the social network.
On Wednesday, the company’s vice-president for global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, said the agreement gave all parties “a unified language to move forward on the fight against hate online.”
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