No funds to register 150 million Nigerians — NIMC  

The Director-General of the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aziz Aliyu, told the House of Representatives on Wednesday, that the agency can register only a quarter of Nigerians for the National Identity card, because of inadequate funding by the Federal government. Nigeria is currently, about 200 million people. The DG made the disclosure at a Budget Defence session concerning Diaspora Data, before the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs yesterday. He said for the Commission to register all Nigerians, it will have to set up 10,000 registration centres across the country, and consequently, require adequate funding from the national budget.

“We require 10,000 centres to capture the entire country. Our capacity currently is only for a quarter of the population of Nigeria. We can’t capture all Nigerians, because currently, we have only 1,000 centres across the country”, he told the Committee. On the issue of capturing the population of Nigerians in the Diaspora, the DG told a shocked committee, that the contract to capture the number of Nigerians abroad was given to licensed, but foreign companies. Besides, he disclosed that an Airport System Project to collate Diaspora data was ongoing, with the assistance of the European Union and the World Bank. “We are waiting for an airport system project to take off. World Bank and EU are assisting us to capture Nigerians in the Diaspora. We have been on this for four years”, he said.

According to him, “We have licensed companies and commenced the process for registration of Nigerians here and abroad. There are 1,627 identity capturing companies licensed”. He said the registration fee for foreign companies collating Diaspora data, is $50 each, and that “we have sent their list to DSS & NIA and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) for security checks”. But the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Tolu Akande-Sadipe (APC-Oyo), was particularly miffed by the revelation that foreign companies were licensed to collate data of Nigerians abroad. She said it was unthinkable, as involving FBI and other foreign firms to collate data, was capable of risking the security of the country and engendering a lack of confidence in the process by the Diaspora population.

Mrs Akande-Sadipe and other committee members wondered why the FBI and other foreign entities were hired for such a sensitive task, bothering on the identities of millions of Nigerians within and outside the country. The Committee Chairman and several other members who took turns to lambast the process also picked holes in the document presented to the Committee by the DG. Though the DG NIMC who looked ruffled and jittery throughout the session, stated in his document before the Committee that the licensing fee for data-collating companies was $57, he repeatedly told the Committee verbally, in the course of a two-hour interaction, that the licensing fee was $50, raising suspicion and angst from the Committee.

The self-contradicting DG, also provoked a marathon session, when he confessed that though the actual licensing fee was $47, the Commission decided to peg it at $50. Persistent requests came from the Committee on the DG, to account for the balance of either $3 or $10, depending on either his verbal submission of $50 or the $57 contained in the document he submitted to the Committee. The Chairman of the Committee, Mrs. Akande-Sadipe sensing that the DG was unwilling to give account, abruptly adjourned the session, but warned that his agency may not get additional funding in the budget, if he didn’t give a thorough account on the licensing fees for the foreign companies and came clean on why he engaged foreign companies for data collation. Vanguard

Pix: Nigeria National identity card