Federal government has said that anybody that does not have identification number from the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), from 1st January 2018 will not be issued with the Nigerian passport.
Government also said that anybody that intends to apply for the renewal of his or her passport or wants a fresh passport but is residing outside the country will first have identification number from NIMC or will be denied issuance or renewal of the passport.
Mohammed Babandede, Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), who disclosed this yesterday after a meeting of database harmonization committee in Abuja explained that the reason behind the new policy was for ease of business in the country.
Babandede said that before now the biggest challenge in the country in getting the adequate data of those doing business in the country was that different parastatals and organizations were deploying their own technology without collaboration or synergy with sister organizations.
According to him, “The bulk lies on all our table. It is the harmonization of data and requires all of us to act but the biggest problem we are facing is that everybody is deploying his own technology.
“There is a practical commitment to this, we have agreed that from 2018 1st January, anybody who is going to apply for Nigerian Passport, whether renewal or fresh must first have a NIMC number, national identity number. Why we are doing this is we want to ease business for Nigeria. There is no need for you to go and have your bio metric captured by NIMC and then you come and capture again with the Nigeria Immigrations.
“Once you give us your NIMC number we will collect the bio metric from NIMC and produce your passport. That is the intention to do in all other agencies. I have also given directive that any foreigner, non Nigerian resident in Nigeria will not get his permit renewed.
“He or she will not get his renewed until he has a NIMC number. To achieve this, NIMC and passport numbers will be harmonized and we are committed to allow NIMC in Immigration.
“All NIMC staff can work in our passport office so when you come to get the passport you can also get the National identity card. The NIMC has also allowed immigration staff to work in their offices so anybody who is coming to claim Nigerian citizenship they will help to identify that citizen. That is the cooperation that we have had so far.”
On whether those intending to have passport will have tax certificate before collecting passport, NIS CG said: “We are not talking of tax, we are talking of e-government. We want to have one e-government. What government is saying is that when you want to collect any facilitate from any government agency, you don’t need to look for the document from any other government agency.
“We should be able to access it, we should be able to know whether you have paid your tax or not. If you are coming through the airport and you want to leave Nigeria, we should be able to know that this guy has not paid his tax and you should be able to pay your tax before you depart. We are looking at one e-government and it is possible.”
Also speaking, Lanre Osibona, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Information Communication Technology, ICT, said that the identification number from NIMC would help in tackling security challenges, bring in innovation in doing business, ensures social and financial inclusion.
He said, “We just had a good meeting interns of national identity which we know is a great asset for the country and so much work has been ongoing with respect to harmonizing all the silo data bases. We are making progress finally.
“The benefit of national identity is immense, security, innovation, social inclusion, financial inclusion. These concern our citizens and it helps in forecasting budget, better planning. So we are determined to ensure that we deliver full concise database for all Nigerians.”
On the timeline for the take off of the policy, he said, “It is good to also share with you that when we came in about two years ago there were 5 million records of NIlMC but today we have moved it close to 20million and we intend to have up to 30million by the end of this year.
“We are working with the World Bank and Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to have a proper approach of how we will be able to capture over 180million over a three year period. Something else that is very worthwhile to mention is part of the effort of government with regard to digital economy.
“What we have also captured in here is the Public Key Infrastructure which will sit within NITDA. An intention of this is to allow for digital signing of key documents being able to authenticate our document digitally.
“Again this helps meet the effort of the PEBEC on the ease of doing business. So we will be able to have CAC issue certificates digitally, NHIS, Tax Clearance, etc. so the resolution as part of the meeting here is that this will be driven by NITDA.”