President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday directed all Federal Government’s ministries, agencies and departments to unify their biometric data capture operations with the National Electronic Identity Card scheme.
Jonathan gave the directive while launching the issuance process of the e-ID card at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He also directed the National Identity Management Commission to issue the card to all federal public servants and pensioners for “speedy and safe payment of salaries and pensions”.
Toward this, he urged the commission to collaborate with the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System and Pension Department.
He added that the Bureau of Public Procurement should also ensure immediate compliance with the directive.
Jonathan said: “The regime of duplication of biometric data bases must now have to give way to harmonisation and unification with the e-ID scheme, which shall be the primary data base.
“The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Governor of the CBN should immediately key in.
“They should, in conjunction with NIMC, reach modalities for the harmonisation of their biometric projects, including other ongoing projects in other MDAs, with the e-ID card scheme.”
According to Jonathan, proliferation and duplication of efforts is neither cost effective nor security-smart.
He stressed that it was important to remove obstacles that may impede the NIMC from the discharge of its constitutional functions and statutory obligations.
Describing the launch of the card as an important milestone, the President expressed happiness that his administration’s vision of a reliable national identity database was coming to reality.
He decried the absence of a national identification system which, according to him, made it difficult for targets of government’s subsidy programmes and other social security services to be reached.
He said: “I’m particularly pleased about NIMC because a number of things we are supposed to do well as a nation, we are not doing well.
“And sometimes we blame government but because of the failure of the system and the credibility of the process.
“If you take the issue of subsidy of transport for example, what we do is subsidise hydrocarbon but it does not get to the ordinary people.
“Government spends hundreds of billions of naira every year in the budget.
“Sometimes, it is controversial.
“We subsidise the price of kerosene and PMS, yet it is selling very high in the market.
“We are thinking about how to subsidise the transportation of the person going to school, the person going to the market and the person moving from Lagos to Enugu or Lagos to Kano.
“What happens is that 60 per cent of these subsidies is smuggled out of the country and those who make the money will come and use it to induce the suffering masses even to riot against government.”
Jonathan expressed happiness that the national electronic identity management system would go a long way in addressing this challenge.
He said: “I’m quite pleased today that with the NIMC’s success story, we are moving forward as a nation.
“Everybody talks about change and I always say that it is not possible to just wake up and change.
“A change is a vector quantity.
“You must have the magnitude and the direction.
“I have taken keen interest in this project primarily because of the pervasive impact it can have on every facet of the socio-economic fabric of our dear nation.
“This is in sync with the transformation agenda of my government.”
Earlier, the Director-General of NIMC, Chris Onyemenam, said that the national e-ID Card was a multi-purpose instrument for identification, electronic signatures, biometric on-card verification and other applications.
Onyemenam stated that the card had five applications already activated at issuance, with a built-in capacity to host more applications on request.
He listed the first phase of applications as local and regional travel, electronic identification of Nigerians, and identification, authentication and digital signatures.
Others are biometric verification as well as banking application, including deposit, withdrawal, payment, transfer and inquiry.