Giant Strides of NIMC Reform Agenda

Giant Strides of NIMC Reform Agenda
December 30 11:35 2015

By Elvis Ogah

The primary objective of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) reform agenda is to create a modern National Identity Management System (NIMS) and infrastructure that include a secure, reliable and accessible National Identity Database (NIDB). The reform agenda is also meant to  secure identity document and identity authentication and verification infrastructure that enable an individual to assert his identity around which a wide range of value proposition is built that meets current and long term identity authentication and verification needs of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), Business and Commercial Transactions in the public and private sectors in the Nigerian economy.

The NIMS has been designed to help the nation avoid wastages/duplication of efforts; create a conducive environment for the orderly development of an identity sector and to leapfrog Nigeria into the modern technology-driven identity management and assurance systems in a sustainable manner whilst partnering with the private sector.

The NIMS project had been accorded less attention by previous administration, but with the immediate past administration, the project received the needed boost. As part of its Identity Sector Reform Agenda, The Federal Executive Council in September 2011 approved the sum of N30.066billion for the expeditious deployment of the NIMS Back-End Infrastructure and to jumpstart the free issuance of 60million National Identity Smart Cards.

Presently, the NIMS Front-End and Back-End operations have been implemented and is fully completed and operational as since 2013 with significant progress, in particular, with capacity for holding 150million enrolments and a de-duplication (ABIS) infrastructure with capacity for checking duplicates of up to 100million. All the tests were successful and it was formally launched in 2013. Key milestones include the successful generation and issuance of a unique National Identification Number (NIN) which was achieved in March 2012.

Other programmes of the Commission include:

  1. Set up of Permanent Registration Centres (PRC) across the 36 states of the federation including FCT; for continuous biometric and demographic data capture services: To achieve this, The NIMC went into partnership with two private firms; Chams Consortium and OneSecure Card Ltd called the Front-End Partners (FEPs). They were to establish, operate and maintain Permanent Registration Centres (PRCs) across Nigeria in designated locations in the State Capitals and Local Government Areas under a ten (10) year Concession Agreement.

These PRCs are to be permanent, temporary and/or mobile. Renovation is ongoing to ensure 36 PRC’s are in full operation by June 2012.  However, as at 2013, the FEO’s have not progressed to doing the terms of the Concession Agreement hence NIMC had to intervene by setting up enrolment centres and recruiting personnel to run the Centres.

  1. Establishment of a National Identity Database (NIDB) to be located at the Commission’s headquarters: The NIDB is a civil register built from the process of unambiguous and unique identification of individuals by linking their demographic and biometric data to an assigned unique (non-intelligent) identification number that guarantees that the details do not appear more than once in the NIDB. As a central identity data repository (CIDR), it has the potential to meet economy-wide value propositions of the NIMC (including supporting payment solutions and other commercial applications). It will facilitate both biometric and non-biometric specialized or function specific databases. As a component of the NIMS back end operation, we can say the NIDB is fully operational. This NIDB (or CIDR) infrastructure has the capacity to hold 150 million enrolments of citizens’ personal information. Also the de-duplication infrastructure – the process by which duplication of identity is avoided is operational.
  2. Harmonization and Integration of Databases owned by government agencies: Government Agencies maintain disparate identity databases and they go through similar processes to collect these identity data, yet there exists no linkage between these agencies in accessing or exchanging the identity related data. In some of these institutions, the process of data collection, treatment and storage is not automated while in others, though semi or fully automated, does not provide for any form of consolidation and security protocol. NIMC Harmonization and Integration Committee (HIC)- through its Sub-Committees on Biometrics and Demographics and Data Field Verification has developed policy documents on Demographic Data Standards and Verification procedures, Biometric Standards and a Business Handbook which are part of an extensive standardization and certification programme that will foster an orderly development of the Identity Sector in Nigeria. These standard documents have become the main.
  3. Collaboration with Other Government Agencies: The Act establishing the NIMC empowers it to enter into any form of agreement with any private or public sector based agency or organization for the development or establishment of the Identity Management Solution or for the realization of any of its functions.

In the light of this, the Commission has built strong synergy and also, has connected relevant government agencies through a dedicated fibre-optic link co-located in its headquarters. These agencies include: National Population Commission, Federal Roads Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Galaxy Backbone, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Police Force, Corporate Affairs Commission, Office of the National Security Adviser, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Communications Commission, National Pension Commission and National Health Insurance Scheme.

Currently, there is a Harmonization and Integration Policy in place. Also, the unified Demographic and Biometric Standards and Harmonization Policies requirements documents are all in place and these standards are being communicated to the Stakeholder Agencies to ensure their understanding and compliance.

  1. Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) Study/Development of a Privacy Policy. The Commission has successfully conducted a PIA study in 2012 -2013 in a bid to address privacy issues in the implementation of the NIMS. The PIA Study included the conduct of a survey across Nigeria, simultaneously in the six geo-political zones. An important rationale for the study was to ensure that the principles of fair information were observed by the NIMC and adequately provided for in the Privacy Policy Document which has also been developed and currently being implemented. In furtherance of the privacy issues, the NIMC has developed a Data Protection Bill which is an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and is awaiting enactment as Law.
  2. Network Connectivity and Disaster Recovery Infrastructure project: This is a sub-project of the National Identity Management System project intended to provide secure connectivity to the National Identity Database for the purpose of enrolment, registration and verification. Galaxy Backbone Plc was contracted to build the infrastructure which include; a robust fibre optic inter-connectivity to 15 identified stakeholder agencies for the purpose of identity verification and integration with National Identity Database (NID; Intra-connectivity between the NIMC HQ and its 36 State Office locations across the country for the purpose of enrolment, registration, verification, data transfer and other operational applications within the NIMS project; Deployment of a full scale disaster recovery centre as the core of the NIMS backup and business continuity strategy. The Disaster Recovery Infrastructure is expected to provide business continuity services that would guarantee the continuous provision of Identity Management Services in the event or occurrence of any disaster in place with dedicated Virtual Private Network to all the NIMC state offices to facilitate data transmission. The Disaster Recovery Site was full completed in 2013 and is currently operational in Minna, Niger State. There are plans in the near future to establish another Disaster Recovery site in another location in the country.

The Identity authentication and Verification infrastructure has been fully designed and operational. Currently, the associated “Clearing House” to manage the authentication and verification service delivery is ready for use.

  1. Card Personalisation and Issuance:

With the formal launch of the National e-ID Card by the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, NIMC has commenced the issuance of the National e-ID card to citizens that have enrolled into the National Identity Database. The National e-ID Card is a part of the National Identity Management System (NIMS) and is recognized as a world class identity token.

The National e-ID Card has a chip containing specific personal information embedded such as your NIN, signature, photo image, biometric and fingerprint images and bio/demographic data i.e. name, date of birth, gender etc. There are 13 Applets preloaded on the chip including:

EMV (payments),

ICAO (travel)

Match on Card for instant verification and authentication of identity,

e-ID and e-PKI

These applets would be activated in the initial introductory/pilot phase particularly the payment applet. In future, more applets would be activated such as; Health, Voting, Tax, Pension, Insurance, Phone SIM Card uploading, Transport and Driving License administration and Management.

The E-ID card has a chip containing specific personal information embedded such as your NIN, signature, photo image, biometric and fingerprint images and bio/demographic data i.e name, date of birth, gender etc. It has a high security design incorporating 19 security features (ISO/IEC Compliant and ICAO 9303 Compliant).  The features of the Card are 100 % polycarbonate with a 10 year lifespan of the card body and personal PIN to ensure security of the card and transactions. In the event of loss or damage, the card details can be deactivated from NIMC’s backend and reactivated with your stored information on re issuance.

The project as conceptualized would be the largest rollout of a formal electronic payment solution in Nigeria and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind in the African Continent. In the first phase, 13 million cards would be issued to Citizens that have already enrolled into the National Database and have their NIN. The Contracts for this has been fully paid for and executed from the year 2012 and from first quarter 2014, NIMC commenced personalisation and issuance of the National e-ID Card.