By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday approved issuance of debit card by commercial banks which doubles as National Identity Card for Nigerians.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the valedictory FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“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,” he said.
He said although the NIMC Act 2007 only mandates Nigerians to have a National Identity Number and not necessarily a printout card, demands for cards have swelled nonetheless.
“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.
“But many citizens, particularly those living in rural communities, always go to NIMC offices complaining that they need the card at hand, even though it’s optional.
“To make it easier, NIMC last year, we introduced a smart ID card you can download from NIMC app. It is just a smart card. You don’t need to have it physically, but that is becoming difficult for our people living in rural communities.
“NIMC has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria so citizens who are interested in having a card at hand can easily go to the relevant banks.
“The bank is permitted to print the card along with either Mastercard or Visa card. It is going to be a form of 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 on our citizens.
“So when you apply for a card at your bank, you can indicate that ‘I want this card to be multiple purpose where it will serve as my bank card and also my national identity card’.
“Both of them are going to be printed on the same card and it is going to serve the same purposes without any additional costs. So that memo has also been approved by the Federal Executive Council,” he said.
The minister said NIMC and the CBN signed a nondisclosure agreement to protect the privacy and confidentiality of card applicants.
“NIMC and the central bank signed a nondisclosure agreement where your privacy and your confidentiality must be respected in the course of providing the card for you.
“When you apply for the card, the bank will apply online to NIMC through their database. When they verify and confirm that your record in the database is in alignment with your record in NIMC database, it will be permitted and the card is going to be printed for you immediately,” he said.
He said the council also approved a memo proposing the deployment of an automated system to integrate NINs with individual SIM cards.
The system, he said, is to consolidate the implementation of the NIN-SIM linkage.
“As we all know that 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 of the policy was also launched and unveiled by Mr. President on May 6, 2021.
“As it stands today, the NIN and SIM policy registration is being implemented. In order to consolidate the implementation.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission came up with a proposal that will enhance the implementation of the policy and bring many more benefits to it,” he said.