- Pantami, Nigeria's Minister of Communications and Digital Economy said the country will replace the NIN slips with a digital token
- The minister said the reason is to ensure improved privacy and security for the carriers of the slips and avoid anonymization and proxy use
- The tokens will be available for purchase by Nigerians without hassles, according to the minister in order to ensure portability
The government of Nigeria says that it would switch the National Identity Number (NIN) for a suite of digital Tokens which will allow Nigerians to have control over their verification processes during official or formal transactions across the country.
Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said this at a workshop on the National Identification Number (NIN) Tokenisation Solution by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) recently in Abuja.
According to the federal government, the strategy is being carried out in order to ensure privacy and protection of individuals during verification transactions and to reduce redundancies during retrieval, usage, transfer and storage of the NIN.
What the government is saying
The Nigerian government stated that the the answer would protect personally identifiable information of the users, and that the gains of the virtual NIN are to ensure no third party may carry out any verification, hiding under a proxy (and without the knowledge of the NIMC, being the Custodian of Identity).
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“And also generated Token or Virtual NIN is unintelligent, completely random with no correlation to the NIN and cannot be reverse engineered, even by a Quantum Computer. The NIN holder is the only exclusive issuer of NIN and cannot be delegated,”
Pantami said anonymization was also catered for with the attachment of the User ID of the verifier to every verification request, adding, no NIN, no verification.
The Communications ministry boss added that the federal government must make sure that every Nigerian will have a digital identity, despite social class or status, improve access to all and ensure continuous protection of privacy and data of our citizens and other enrollees, according to a report by Nairametrics
Tunji Durodola, Technical Consultant of NIMC, said the Digital Token was made to take over the 11-digit NIN for everyday usage, stating that the improved NIN slip had a smaller form factor and is available to all who have been issued an active NIN, saying they may be purchased without having to visit NIMC office.
What Durodola is saying:
“Some of the pre-requisites of tokenization are, one needs a NIN issued by NIMC, mobile number registered in Nigeria and linked to your NIN."
Despite the hassles Nigerians went through during registration of the NIN which the government said is compulsory in order for them to link their phone SIM cards to the NIN, experts say the new directive may throw them into another frenzy as they will face another challenge to obtain the digital suite.
The importance of NIN
Legit.ng reported that getting NIN is important for every Nigerian because it is used to harmonise all the records about individuals in the country.
These include demographic data, fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture, and other biometric data and digital signature in the National Identity Database which make it easy to confirm and verify a person's identity.
Recently, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) made it mandatory for all Nigerians using mobile SIM to update their record using the NIN.
The commission gave two weeks deadline to disconnect any Nigerian subscriber who fails to link the NIN with his/her mobile number.