The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

In an ambitious and sweeping move, Nigeria plans to roll out a national ID card.

In an ambitious meld of identity verification and financial technology, the Nigerian government has announced the introduction of an innovative national ID card. The move, facilitated by a collaboration between the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the country’s central bank, and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), represents a significant step toward a more inclusive financial and social service framework for the nation’s populace. Powered by AfriGO, Nigeria’s domestic card scheme, the enhanced ID card promises a seamless blend of identification and access to a suite of services.

Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications, affirmed on April 5, 2024, that the multifaceted ID card aligns with the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007, which empowers the NIMC to enroll individuals and issue the General Multipurpose Card (GMPC) to citizens and legal residents. The card serves multiple functions: it is a tangible proof of identity, a key to both government and private-sector services, a facilitator of financial inclusion for marginalized Nigerians, and a catalyst for civic engagement.

The program aims to reach individuals who have been historically left out of social and financial services, enabling them to participate in various government initiatives. Only those registered with a National Identification Number (NIN) can apply for this card, which conforms to ICAO standards and is positioned as Nigeria’s definitive national identity card. Moreover, the card is not limited to identification—it doubles as a debit or prepaid card when linked to a bank account.

The NIMC detailed the card’s features, emphasizing its broad applications. They include a Machine-readable Zone (MRZ) compatible with ICAO standards, issue date, and document number, and provisions for travel and health insurance, micro-loans, and subsidies for agriculture, food, transport, and energy. It also features Nigeria’s Quick Response code (NQR) encoding the national identification number and utilizes biometrics as its primary mode of authentication.

Remarkably, the card is designed with an offline capability, ensuring transactional functionality even in the most remote areas with limited network access. It will cater to both the banked and unbanked population segments, with registration available through various channels, including online platforms, commercial banks, participating agencies, and NIMC offices across the country.

In keeping with international data protection standards, the NIMC has pledged to safeguard the personal data of cardholders. This commitment extends to ensuring stringent compliance with data security protocols, thereby protecting the confidentiality and integrity of user information. For more details, citizens are directed to the NIMC website, reinforcing the government’s effort to foster a data-conscious and service-oriented identity management ecosystem.

Ismaila Biliaminu Manne is a freelance journalist and writer, with a keen interest in African cultures as well as underreported storytelling of marginalized communities across Nigeria. He lives in North Central Nigeria.