By Angeline Ngbele, Correspondent Abuja
Operator and regulator of matters of national identity in Nigeria, the National Identity Management Commission(NIMC), has been transferred to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, following an order from Nigerian Leader, Muhammadu Buhari to that effect. With this development, NIMC joins telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), IT industry regulator, THE National Agency for Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA), Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST), Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) and Galaxy Backbone, thus bringing to six, agencies now under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
According to a statement from the Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Uwa Suleiman, August 31, 2020, says the Presidential order was made in an effort to ensure that synergy and effective ministry supervisory mechanism is put in place to coordinate, monitor and track the progress of Federal Government’s digital transformation initiatives.
According to Suleiman: “The approval for the transfer was based on Mr. President’s consideration for the critical role of NIMC towards the realisation of the objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS). Furthermore, Mr. President’s directives for NIMC to be under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is an illustration of Mr. President’s vote of confidence on Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, based on an unprecedented performance. He has, within his first year in office, amongst others, resolved the ICT sector’s decade-long dilemma of Right of Way charges. He was also able to secure Mr. President’s approval for the provision of security as well as designation of Telecommunications Infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure, regularization of improperly registered SIM cards and deactivation of unregistered ones, the deployment of over 250 digital projects across the country under his policies and supervision as well as built the capacity of over 36,000 Nigerians.”
NIMC is statutorily mandated to create, manage, maintain and operate the National Identity Database established by the NIMC Act, 2007.In an effort to realise this, the Commission has so far registered around 41 million eligible enrollees for the National Identity Number (NIN).
The Nigerian Communications Commission, on the other hand, has details of over 191 million mobile subscribers. Furthermore, the National Information Technology Development Agency has recorded huge successes in the development and implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), the country’s first codified data protection regulation as well as reached an advanced stage in the implementation of the National Public Key Infrastructure (NPKI).
Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB) also provides services to Government Agencies namely Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service. “The need, therefore, for NIMC, NCC, NITDA and GBB to work closely together under the supervision of one Ministry towards harnessing what has already been achieved cannot be overemphasized,” Suleiman said.
Suleiman said further: “The NIN, considered as a social security as well as civil number, is very important for economic planning and social intervention. With Federal Government’s digitalization initiatives in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, access to services and interventions will require it. We therefore urge all eligible individuals to enroll as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Honourable Minister is assuring Nigerians as well as residents that appropriate measures will be put in place to ensure that opportunities for enrolment are provided to all.”
Meanwhile, as part of the processes leading up to the enactment of the National legislation on Data Protection, interested persons are being invited by NIMC and NCC to submit written comments on the draft Bill not later than Thursday, September 10, 2020.
The invitation is titled: Federal Republic of Nigeria National Identity Management Commission Nigeria Digital Idenitifcation For Development Project Legal Regulatory Reform Working Group Invitation To Comment On the draft data protection bill, 2020.
As per the advisory, “the Federal Government of Nigerian has received a credit from the World Bank, French Development Agency & European Investment Bank for the implementation of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project.
The Project consists of four components: (i) Strengthen the Legal and Institutional Framework; (ii) Establish a Robust and Inclusive Foundational ID System, (iii) Enable Access to Services through IDs; and (iv) Project Management and Stakeholder Engagement. The President in March 2020 approved the constitution of Digital Identity Ecosystem Project Steering Committee (PSC), the overall governing body of the digital identity ecosystem and the Legal and Regulatory Reform Working Group (LWG) reporting to the PSC.”
Objectives of the assignment
The LWG is responsible for implementing the activities relating to legal, regulatory and institutional framework for identity management in Nigeria. The legal reforms required under the ID Ecosystem Project are necessary to promote trust in the ID system particularly as it relates to the protection of privacy and personal data, strengthening institutional and administrative framework, inclusion and nondiscrimination, interoperability of identity databases and registries. Et cetera.
Crucial to the reform process and key component of the ID Ecosystem Project are the twin issues of
privacy rights and data protection. In this regard, the LWG has concluded the harmonization of all reviews and comments by LWG stakeholders on the extant draft Data Protection Bill, 2020 and consequently requests for further comments from interested persons in preparation for the one-day validation workshop scheduled for Monday, 14 September 2020.
Individuals and groups are to direct all enquiries and written comments via post/hand delivery or via email to the Legal and Regulatory Reform Working Group Secretariat;
The Secretariat – Legal & Regulatory Reform Working Group,
National Identity Management Commission (NIMC),
First Floor (Room 125),
11 Sokode Cescent off Dalaba Street,
Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, Nigeria.
While Copies of submissions should also be sent to;
The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO
Nigerian Communications Commission,
Plot 423, Aguiyi Ironsi Street,
Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria.
ATTN: Director – Legal & Regulatory Services