The federal government says Nigerians can now request their commercial banks to issue them with a debit card which doubles as their National Identity Card at no extra cost.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja, said the approval was obtained at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He explained that 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.
He 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.”
According to Mr Pantami, 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.”
To ease the difficulty, Mr Pantami said, NIMC had partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria ”so that citizens who are interested in having a card at hand can easily go to the relevant banks.”
According to him, 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 to 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,”
The minister disclosed that 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,” the minister added.
The minister also said that FEC also approved a memo proposing the deployment of an automated system to integrate NINs with individual SIM cards.
The system, he noted, would consolidate the implementation of the NIN-SIM linkage.
He said “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.”
Mr Pantami said the automated system would sanitise the database and ease the process of SIM replacement for Nigerians or legal residents.