PMB directs banks to issue NIN cards to Nigerians
Story from Vivian DANIEL, Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has announced that Nigerians can now request their commercial banks to issue them a debit card that also serves as their national identity card.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, made this disclosure on Wednesday, May 24th in Abuja, adding that the issuance comes at no cost.
Pantami stated that the approval was obtained during a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The approval followed a memo from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), allowing banks to print multipurpose debit cards that double as national identity cards.
Explaining the new development, the Minister said, “It is going to be a form of multipurpose card where it will serve as your national identity card on one hand and also your bank card on the other hand, either Mastercard, Visa, or any other kind of card.”
Pantami highlighted that while the NIMC Act 2007 mandates Nigerians to have a National Identity Number (NIN) and not necessarily a physical card, there has been a surge in demands for cards.
He stated, “As in the NIMC Act 2007, section 27, what is mandatory for our citizens and legal residents is the acquiring of the National Identity Number, not the card. However, the card is optional.”
He further explained that many citizens, particularly those in rural communities, have been requesting physical cards from NIMC offices, even though it’s optional. To address this challenge, NIMC introduced a smart ID card last year, downloadable from the NIMC app. However, accessing the smart card has become difficult for those in rural communities.
To alleviate this difficulty, Pantami revealed that NIMC has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria, allowing interested citizens to obtain the card easily through relevant banks. The bank will print the card along with a Mastercard or Visa card.
“It is going to be a form of a multipurpose card that will serve as your national identity card on one hand and also your bank card on the other. And based on the agreement, it is without any additional costs to our citizens,” Pantami assured.
He further emphasized that when applying for the card at the bank, individuals need to indicate their desire for a multipurpose card serving as both a bank card and a national identity card. The card will then be printed immediately, with no additional costs.
Pantami revealed that NIMC and the CBN have signed a nondisclosure agreement to protect the privacy and confidentiality of card applicants. He assured the privacy and confidentiality of card users.
However, the Minister emphasized that upon card request, the bank will connect to the NIMC database to verify the person’s details. The information provided by the bank must align with the records in the NIMC database. Once verified, the card will be printed and handed to the user.
Additionally, the Minister noted that the Federal Executive Council has approved a proposal for the deployment of an automated system to integrate NINs with individual SIM cards. This system aims to streamline the NIN-SIM linkage process.
Pantami stated, “As we all know, previous administrations made efforts to verify NIN and SIM starting from 2011 without success. In February 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of the policy, and the revised version was launched by Mr. President on May 6, 2021. As it stands today, the NIN and SIM registration policy is being implemented.”
He further highlighted that the automated system would enhance the implementation of the policy and bring many more benefits to it. The automated system will also sanitize the database and simplify the process of SIM replacement for Nigerians and legal residents.
The move to allow commercial banks to issue NIN cards aligns with the government’s efforts to make the identification process more convenient for citizens. By combining the national identity card with a debit card, individuals will have a single card that serves multiple purposes.
The partnership between NIMC and the Central Bank of Nigeria ensures that citizens can easily obtain the multipurpose card through their preferred banks. This initiative aims to address the demand for physical identity cards, particularly in rural communities where access to the NIMC app may be challenging.
The assurance of privacy and confidentiality is an important aspect of this development. NIMC and the CBN have taken measures to protect the personal information of card applicants, emphasizing the importance of data security.
Furthermore, the deployment of an automated system for integrating NINs with individual SIM cards will streamline the NIN-SIM linkage process. Previous attempts to verify NIN and SIM had faced challenges, but the revised policy, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, is now being effectively implemented.
The automated system will enhance the implementation of the policy, making it more efficient and beneficial for citizens. It will also contribute to the sanitization of the database, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information.
With these measures in place, Nigerians will have easier access to their national identity cards through their banks, simplifying the identification process and promoting convenience for all citizens.