Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, had disclosed recently that the federal government plans to replace the Bank Verification Number (BVN) with the National Identity Number (NIN).
Naija News reports that Pantami stated this to newsmen on Monday after a tour of telecoms operators and NIN licensees in Abuja.
The minister added that he had also briefed the National Economic Sustainability Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the imperative of replacing BVN with NIN.
He pointed out that while BVN was only for bank accounts holders, the NIN are for all Nigerians irrespective of their status.
“BVN is a policy of a bank and has not been established by law, NIN is the only mandatory number and the primary identification of our citizens and every other identification is secondary.
“The NIMC Act 2007 provides that all our citizens must be enrolled and the law gives them 60 days to enroll from the time the law was enacted and a maximum of 180 days and all permanent residents in the country and legal residents that have to stay here for a minimum of 24 months must be enrolled,” he had said.
Aside BVN, the federal government is planning to replace the Drivers Licence, issued by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Tax Identification Number (TIN) and the International Passport Number with the NIN
Others include professional licences like medical practice licence, pharmacology, nursing licence, teachers’ registration licence and engineering licence, among others.
According to DailyTrust, just like BVN and other data systems, there are limitations: you must be eligible to be captured in one or all these databases, but the NIN is not so, as long as you are a Nigerian or living in Nigeria.
For instance, BVN is only for those with active bank accounts, International Passport is often done by people who may have the need or opportunity to travel abroad, drivers licence works for those who have attained the 18-year for driving and are duly certified and fit for driving, while TIN is for those who are in the working-age and eligible to pay tax – Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
Countries in Asia, Europe and even the United States practice a central national identity system that tracks residents in a country.
The NIMC’s database is the primary one in the country that every institution should make reference to.
Another reason for prioritising NIMC is due to the insecurity issues in Nigeria.
Pantami said, with NIMC’s database, the level of security is 99.9 percent which is further guaranteed by the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation to guarantee safety of all data collected in the country.
Currently, NIN has been harmonised with the BVN of customers by most of the banks, the process is still on to integrate SIM cards with NIN by the telecommunication companies.
The NIN has been integrated as a central identity number in new international passports.
In December, FRSC rolled out its enforcement of NIN first before drivers licence, meaning you cannot get a new licence and renew one if you have no NIN.