Vice President Osinbajo expressed this view, when he delivered a keynote address at a Policy Roundtable meeting on Identity Eco System hosted by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), in collaboration with the World Bank at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, in Abuja.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, noted that identity plays a pivot role in our lives and cuts across so many sectors of the economy adding that the government has realised the huge importance of moving towards a Digital Government.
According to him, “as a government, we recognise the huge importance of moving towards a Digital Government. Therefore, we must embrace and harness the potentials inherent in digital identity to build and develop our country. Nations all over the world and in particular, developed countries have utilized identity as a foundation to transforming governance and enhancing service delivery in the areas of healthcare, agriculture, voting, transportation, financial inclusion, access to basic service and welfare programmes.”
Osinbajo buttressed an observation on a case in Estonia, a country of just over 1.3m population which he said, currently has one of the most advanced e-government systems in the world adding that it has a single digital ID that accesses its citizens secure services.
Continuing, he stated that the Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has commenced work on the harmonisation process thereby giving the assurance that Nigeria must use its digital strategy to establish a global reputation for technological leadership and business dynamism, building digital ecosystems in which innovation thrives.
He further stated that all the developed nations have a single identifier that forms the core of their identity adding that the USA, UK and India has this unique number which encapsulates the identity of the individual and all of the activities relating to the identification of the person.
Osinbajo also noted that Nigeria as a global player and a developing nation, must work towards leveraging digital identity as a reliable tool for uniquely identifying its citizenry and accelerating socio economic development.
He observed that different sectors in Nigeria, in response to this peculiar needs, have developed a means to identify individuals in order to perform their specific statutory functions have ended up in duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, uncoordinated identity approach, as well as unreliable identity information due to lack of interoperability and disconnected databases. He thereby urged the NIMC to ensure absolute integrity and security of this information.
As a nation, we have an interoperable and connected system to verify that each person or beneficiary is who he claims to be. Our strategic plans, as a government in the area of identification scheme must therefore converge to make harmonization and integration of the existing and new databases a reality, he noted.
Furthermore, he urged government agencies to work together to ensure that the nation’s policies are articulated and refined by collaborating with each other, share infrastructure and government investments to serve their customers who are potentially the same citizens, adding that there are potentially large benefits from the integration of the ID programs of our government institutes and thereby emphasising that it is necessary to take the advantage now.
In addition, he said that as the government is set to resolve the identity management system challenges, all other forms of identification such as Drivers’ Licence, International Passports would be aligned and in sync.
He also noted that the President has already taken the initiative in recognising the importance of identity and a harmonized identity management system.
However, he commended the World Bank and all other donor agencies for their concern and interest in the development of the identity ecosystem of Nigeria, including the harmonisation and integration of many disparate government identity management databases.