Nigeria’s border management system is faced with multiple challenges in the areas of facilitating travel and trade which are needed for the country’s development as well as for enhancing border security. The population of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has almost tripled since its establishment in 1975 and now stands at approximately 350 million individuals.
Furthermore, Nigeria faces a huge challenge in effectively managing identities of its citizens. There is limited institutional capacity in civil registry and the country hosts a very fragmented identity management landscape which incurs significant costs to the government.
Currently, over 13 government agencies and at least three states agencies offer identity services in Nigeria. Many of them capture biometrics and issue identity cards independently without establishing links with other systems, often resulting in duplications and waste of valuable resources.
In response to those challenges, IOM and partners on identity management held a retreat on 15-17 November in Lagos, for all the agencies involved in implementing the National Biometric Identity Card (NBIC) in Nigeria to discuss and analyse the implementation status of ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card in Nigeria. The retreat encouraged the brainstorming among agencies to list the challenges and potential solutions that will be the seed for future approach in managing identity in Nigeria.
“The National Inter-agency and Identity Management Retreat gives an opportunity for agencies to share the current status of ECOWAS NBIC, analysing the techncial, operational and legal approaches in implementing the ECOWAS – National Biometric Identity Card in Nigeria,” said in her remarks Ms. Maysa Khalil, IOM Nigeria’s IBM Programme Manager.
This regional identity document, which is in tandem with the provision of the National Security Strategy (NSS-2019) developed by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), will assist Nigeria in tackling transborder security challenges bedeviling the nation and the sub-region in general.
“We shall continue engagement in the national discussion and development on the National Biometric Identity Card, said Mr. Nasiru Ahmed Principal Senior Officer from the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“It is expected that a collaborative approach between Agencies and Ministries will provide an accurate picture of the status in roll-out of the NBIC and elaborate on roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders,” he added.
The objective of the retreat is to continue engagement in the national discussion and development on the NBIC as defined by ECOWAS. Discussions in the meeting also focused on the findings of the survey conducted in 2021 to obtain an accurate picture of the status in the roll-out of the NBIC, analyse all relevant stakeholders, their roles and responsibilities and on-going initiatives in the country such as the National Identity Number (NIN) programme and their progress status.