Liberal Mind

BVN now NIN: All about data

By Adetunji Ayobrown
Change agents of our time, all thanks to who and whom are involved in this. More than a sense of relief which could be considered to have come through media efforts. At least it shows someone or some people somewhere are listening to and acting on problems concerning Nigerians to a certain extent. When I wrote about the correlation between NIN, BVN and voter’s card, it seems I was just hoping for a change, thank God, Nigerians seem to be having better ways.
The needed information is about individual customer or citizen, how it is being handled and where it makes huge difference and probably the name given in it. Actually, it is all same data but with little additions here and there. Now and finally, some steps are being taken in this important direction.
Everything is a copy of a copy, but many still harbour the illusion that scientific data while dealing with facts as it does, cannot be subjected to governments and organisational petty rivalries. Else, ask ministries and parastals with many PhDs and masters’ holders that cannot find any tangible solutions to the Nigerian problems and are claiming academic achievements in names and title only.
Without any technical difficulty, now there is a presentation to the National Economic Sustainability Committee to call the attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the need to replace BVN with NIN.
Like not knowing the known. The question is what is the strength of the law here in relation with policy of business institutions? The BVN is a regulator’s policy, while NIN is a law, or whatever. Yes or no?
if the regulator’s policy is not a law, why did the FG enforced it?
This was the question put to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami who guff while trying to explain reason for the FG’s day vision to replace BVN with NIN.
Information is key, power, and more than anything, information is security. But it is a matter of classification. BVN may truly be seen as secondary database, while NIN and the database is seen as primary in the country. He noted that BVN may only be applicable to those who have bank accounts while NIN is for every citizen and other legal residents in the country.
Saying BVN is a regulator’s policy, while NIN is a law, is the statement that brought the minister to the people’s glare, x-raying his understanding of data whether it is B or N. The fact is that data is same irrespective of any organisation or government agency in charge. All except, eyes colours, toes print or political party are included in the BVN database.
As data is more than just information, it is economic corridor. It’s good judgement, based on the data available that an average Nigerian has one or two bank accounts that are supposedly already linked with BVN. The facial scan, name, age, gender, state of origin with finger prints are some of the requirements for the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and why many addition will be needed for the National Identity Number (NIN). International passports and other travelling documents, including the driver’s license are data already registered. For instance, many still have their old national identity cards though.
Is about what Nigeria do with its citizens’ data as option. Beyond boasting about Nigeria being at the forefront in Africa with regards to data protection regulations, claiming that the level of security in the entire database is 99.9% with little or no technical knowhow on how citizen’s update will be done is absurd.
More than armchair experts and as regulatory body, there is need for NIMC to focus on regulatory work and set the standards for biometrics registration, measuring of heights, standard for data to be collected and general verification.
Extent alone may not rise above mediocrity. In line with global standard and best practices, government engagement of private agents for the NIN enrolment will ease the stress. GSM providers with full compliance with COVID-19 protocols can just update.
Create values from the obvious, let us unlock equity in citizen’s information. Nigerians are thinking and hoping that public officeholders in government ministries, agencies and parastatal at a time like this, should use this to solve national data registration once and for all.
Let use this pattern, individual data synchronisation is all that is needed. GSM providers with full compliance with COVID-19 protocols can now update their customers’ data to ease the NIN registration tension.
It is a simple modern city logic.
*Ayobrown, Senior System Analyst, National Pilot Newspaper, writes via aayobrown@gmail.com

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