The Nigerian government is planning to issue identity numbers to 70 million citizens by the end of the 2019 in a bid to boost financial inclusion.

Aliyu Aziz, director general of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) told Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, that Nigeria, which currently holds centralised data for less than 15% of its almost 200 million population, would integrate various identity-capturing and verification systems run by other government departments, banks and mobile-phone companies.

“We currently have silos of identity with several agencies. The NIMC will play the role of the harmoniser and coordinator of the back-end database while allowing all the other agencies to have touch points and areas of interaction with the citizens,” Aziz said in the interview.

Partnership with banking and payments system

Aziz said there are plans to expand the collaboration by including other payments companies, with the ultimate target to covering all citizens over concerned that large set of country's population remained outside banking and payments system.

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In 2015, the government had formed partnership with Mastercard Inc. to issue identity cards embedded with their payment chips.

“In addition to the facilitation of payments, the identification numbers and the accompanying cards will be used for tax and health insurance administration, voter verification and help keep track of population changes,” Aziz said.

The director-general also said Interswitch Limited, which issues Verve debit and credit cards, is at an advanced stage of linking its payments with the national identity database, while United Bank for Africa Plc is working on a pilot.

Options for citizens

Citizens will be able to make their choice of payment companies during enrolment.

Recall that Aliyu Aziz, in March 2018, itemised some of the benefits for enrolling into the National Identity Database (NIDB) to include gateway to economic growth and viability, taxation and revenue generation process for the government.

He said that NIN would make it easier to track, prove one’s identity and gives access to social benefits such as Healthcare, Education, Employment  for the citizens.