The Nigeria Immigration Service says from January 1, 2018, anybody without the National Identification Number, issued by the National Identity Management Commission, will not be able to procure Nigerian passport.
The Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mr. Mohammed Babandede, disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting of database harmonisation committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Babandede said the decision was taken as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to ease the process of doing business in the country.
He said thenceforth, there would be no need for individuals to have their biometrics captured by the NIS and NIMC separately.
He said, “The biggest problem we are facing is that everybody is deploying his own technology; but harmonisation of data will solve that. We have agreed that from January 1, 2018, anybody who is going to apply for the Nigerian passport, whether renewal or fresh application, must first have a National Identity Number.
“Why we are doing this is that we want to ease process of doing business in Nigeria. There is no need for you to go and have your biometrics captured by the NIMC and then you come and capture again with the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“Once you give us your NIN, we will collect the biometrics from the NIMC and produce your passport.”
Babandede said he had directed that permits of foreigners resident in Nigeria should not be renewed without the NIN.
To achieve this, the NIS boss said identification numbers and passport numbers would be harmonised.
“The NIMC workers can work in our passport office. So, when you come to get your passport, you can also get the national identity card.
“The NIMC has allowed immigration workers to work in their offices. So, anybody who is coming to claim Nigerian citizenship, they will help to identify that citizen. That is the cooperation that we have had so far,” he explained.
Babandede said government’s aim was to put in place what he called e-government.
“When you want to collect anything from any government agency, we don’t need to go to get the document from any other government agency; we should be able to access it, we should be able to know whether you have paid your tax or not.
“If you are coming through the airport and you want to leave Nigeria, we should be able to know that this guy has not paid his tax and you should be able to pay your tax before you depart. We are looking at one e-government and it is possible,” he explained.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Information Communications Technology, Lanre Osibona, said progress was being made concerning harmonisation of all databases.
He said about two years ago, only five million people were registered by the NIMC, adding that the figure had increased to 20 million, while efforts were being made to increase it to 30 million by the end of the year.
Osibona said the government was working with the World Bank and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to capture over 180 million people over a three-year period.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission has registered over 1.7 million voters in the first phase of the Continuous Voter Registration across the country.
The commission had commenced the CVR on April 27, 2017, in all the 774 local government areas across the country.
The INEC National Commissioner in charge of the South-West, Mr. Adedeji Soyebi, told one of our correspondents in a text message on Tuesday that the commission registered over 1.7 million voters in the first phase of the exercise which ended on July 20, 2017.
Soyebi, who is also the Chairman of the Committee on Information and Voter Education, said the number was encouraging.
He said, “Over 1.7 million voters were registered. The figure is not low.”
There are reports that the commission was expected to commence the second phase of continuous voter registration this month (August).
It was gathered that the commission had invited some of its personnel in the states to its Information and Communications Technology Centre in Abuja in connection with the preparations for the exercise.
However, we could not get Soyebi to comment on when the second phase would commence as his mobile phone rang out, and he had yet to respond to a text message sent to him on the issue.
Investigation has revealed that the commission commenced the process on Monday by distributing the systems required for the exercise to the states.
An official of the commission, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “The management has started the process for the second phase; we sent out systems that would be used for the exercise in the states on Monday.”