Political scientists believe that national identity is fundamental to a country’s branding; indicating citizens’ identity or sense of belonging to a state or a country.
They are unanimous in describing it as the logic of a nation as a cohesive whole, as represented by distinctive traditions, culture, language and politics.
Further to this, observers note that national identity is an integral part of nation-building, by all standards, which importance cannot be underestimated.
In the light of this, the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the immediate commencement of the implementation of a strategic roadmap for Digital Identity Ecosystem in Nigeria.
It is a framework that leverages on the existing capabilities and infrastructure of distinct government agencies and private sector organisations to carry out enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB).
This process will also result in the issuance of digital identity, National Identification Number (NIN), to give Nigeria a credible and robust identity management system.
Observers, therefore, note that the approval of the Identity Ecosystem by the government will bring into full force the implementation of the provisions of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Act 23, 2007, which include the enforcement of the mandatory use of the NIN by Jan. 1, 2019.
They advise stakeholders to adhere to the provision of Section 28 of the NIMC Act and Regulations that approves appropriate sanctions and penalties for defaulters in the implementation process.
The Director-General of NIMC, Engr. Aliyu Aziz, observed that the strategic roadmap for Digital Identity Ecosystem “falls in line with the federal government’s efforts to reposition the country’s status in the global economy’’.
He noted that the roadmap would boost the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) that was inaugurated in 2017.
“ERGP is designed as an omnibus strategy for the government to meet the critical needs of the citizenry in areas such as food security, energy, transport, human capital development, but more critically developing a local digital economy.
“More enrolment centres for national identity registration would be created to meet the World Bank standard of 50,000 people per registration centre,’’ he said.
He pleaded with lawmakers that while the government would be active in fast-tracking the process of national identity registration, the National Assembly should raise a motion for the mandatory use of the NIN for all services and transactions by both the Federal Government and private organisations.
But the former House of Representatives Committee on National Population and Identity demanded that NIMC should work towards achieving accurate population figure for the country.
The committee noted that in-depth publicity of NIN registration to the public would help the commission to achieve its mandate.
Hon. Aminu Sani, former chairman of the committee, observed that Nigeria, as the most populous country in Africa, needed accurate population figure for proper planning.
Similarly, Hon. Dickson Tarkighir, a former member of the committee, noted that without an accurate figure, “government at all levels cannot make plans and or implement policies effectively. There is no way the Nigerian government can plan effectively without knowing how many we are in the country.’’
According to him, since the country has not been able to conduct another population census since 2007, NIMC is in the position to help solve the problem of providing accurate population figure.
“This is because NIMC has a central identity database and also issues the NIN which is the unique identifier,’’ he said.
The committee also urged the commission to strengthen its collaboration with partner agencies in enforcing the mandatory use of the NIN in 2019.
To meet the January 2019 target for the use of NIN, the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) assured the public that it would be ready to collaborate with the NIMC to create and maintain a reliable identity database for the country.
The Managing Director, NSPM, Mr Abbas Masanawa, said “the NSPMC is tasked with the responsibility, among other things, to print all security documents in the country to enable the government create employment, stabilise exchange rates and strengthen the economy.
“The NSPMC will collaborate with NIMC on the printing of the NIN slip and strategise with NIMC on other possible ways to partner.
“We are ready to domesticate the printing of the National e-ID Card by scaling up our equipment and capacity to meet up to the NIMC standard of card production such as we did with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“I believe that this partnership would allow us to be part of the success story of NIMC as we all strive to take our organisations to the next level’’.
Assessing its importance, Hon. Ebi Ololo, who represented Nembe Constituency I in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, said that national identity registration would be useful for social and economic inclusion.
He called on NIMC to open more enrolment centres across various wards in the state for NIN registration to meet up with the population.
“NIN is crucial to lives of Nigerians and legal residents, being the unique identifier for all; it should be viewed the same way the social security number is regarded in the U.S., as the National Insurance Number is valued in the UK, or the AADHAR number in India,’’ he said.
However, NIMC claimed that it had, so far, captured more than 33 million Nigerians in its data base as at October 2018.
Head of Corporate Communications NIMC, Mr Loveday Ogbonna, explained that the figure comprised both adults and children.
He decried the low turnout of children in the NIN registration, saying “the registration for NIN is a lifetime opportunity and having NIN as an individual will strengthen and aid service delivery’’.
Ogbonna further noted that obtaining NIN would promote socio-economic inclusion as well as development for many Nigerians.
He advised Nigerians and the legal residents to take their children and wards of all ages for enrolment at any NIMC registration centres across the country.
“Enrolment of minors is ongoing and has no age bracket, parents are encouraged to bring children that are one year and above in age so that the camera can capture their faces very well.
“What we have observed is that it is difficult to take pictures of children below one year of age, so we advise parents to wait until their kids are one year old.
“Parents and guardians must present their NIN and their children’s birth certificate before their children or ward can be enrolled and issued a National Identification Number,’’ he said.
He, therefore, advised that Nigerians should utilise the opportunity to get registered, noting that NIN has so many social benefits, including unhindered access to government services.
“It also enables you to assert your identity; nobody mistakes you for another; no matter how identical you are, NIN singles you out,’’ Ogbonna said.
He, nonetheless, warned against double enrolment in the National Identity Database for the NIN, describing it as a crime and punishable offence.
Nwachukwu writes for News Agency of Nigeria.
The Wike That I Know
Several comments, interpretations, narratives and theories have greeted the recent letter written by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State to President Muhammadu Buhari, expressing the sincere appreciation of the Rivers State Government and people to Mr. President, for approving the sum of N78.9 billion to the state, as refund of monies expended by the State on federal projects in the state.
Most of these responses have either been mischievous, absurd, totally misleading and some even trying to conjure and configure fabulist narratives, celebrating the mystique and magical influence of the power of money on the human psyche.
But the most remarkable of these is the one written by Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, titled: WIKE VINDICATES BUHARISTS.
To be sure, Femi Adesina’s opinion on any topic immediately attracts considerable attention and commands tremendous weight, not just for the fact that he has been a seasoned journalist over the years, but indeed in recognition of his status as the Special Adviser to Mr. President Buhari on Media and Publicity; which makes him one of the recognized spokespersons of our President, whose views unequivocally represents the opinion of the Presidency in all matters.
It is therefore, in due cognizance of this latter responsibility and authority of his portfolio, that one must appreciate and commend Femi Adesina for his endorsement of Governor Nyesom Wike’s decision to thank President Buhari for approving the refund of N78.9 billion to Rivers State, and also the quite remarkable request for the President to oblige Rivers State with a State visit.
Of course, Femi Adesina’s admiration of Governor Nyesom Wike and his bold Thank You letter are embedded copiously in his article, though couched in the unerring profiling of the Rivers Governor in some lyrical passages and in some truculent, pro-Buhari obsessiveness in others.
The point needs to be made unambiguously, that the Rivers State Government, by way of emphasizing what Governor Wike rightly stated in the letter, appreciates the magnanimity of President Buhari,with profound gratitude and deep sincerity.
It was Aesop, the legendary Greek fabulist and writer of fables, who said that “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” There is certainly no doubt that one man who stands tall and proud, courageous and fearless with great nobility in today’s political space, is definitely Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
For instance, what Femi Adesina describes as “crying wolf” and “pontificating” is nothing more than the ability to say and do things which other people are too frightened or lily livered to say or do; what we refer to in Nigeria as “dying in silence. ”
What Mr. Adesina surely knows is that one virtue that Governor Wike possesses is courage. He has never hesitated to call anybody out including the President, his own party members and even multi-nationals operating in Rivers State, whenever the need arises and Adesina himself, has already agreed, by confessing to responding to some of these wolf cries in his write up, that these calls were necessary at the time they were made.
If Governor Wike’s courage to speak up when others are silent and cowering in fear, leads to the approval of the refund of the N78.9 billion which the Federal Government owes Rivers State, then the expression of gratitude that recognizes and appreciates such appropriate magnanimity is the highest form of nobility.
Like Mr. Femi Adesina rightly pointed out in his essay, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), chaired by President Buhari, approved the REFUND of N148 billion to five states in the country for repair of Federal roads, for which Rivers State got N78.9 billion. But that is not even half the story.
For the avoidance of doubt and to set the records straight, it will be germane at this juncture to tell the true story of the refund and set the records straight, as presented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, once and for all.
Giving a background to the reimbursement, Lai Mohammed had explained that the decision was sequel to a huge bill sent to the federal government by the entire 36 states of the federation in 2016, seeking a refund of funds they expended on the repair of some federal roads in their respective states.
He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads. This prompted Mr. President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed, these projects were actually constructed. Were they completed in line with the federal government standards?
“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the Minister of Works and Housing which also had ministers of education, transportation (and immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi), minister of finance, minister of state for works, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and permanent secretary, cabinet office as members, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes, indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.
“But the claims of five other states – Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun – failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation. So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order. That is why the BPP is on the committee.
“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85; Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.
“Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge to get a refund of N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyover bridges is to get a refund of N78,953,067,518.29.”
From the above therefore, three important points stand out for particular interest and reference, viz:
1. The money is neither a generous loan gift or a desperate bailout package as people like Femi Adesina are shaping the narrative to sound, but a REFUND of monies already spent by Rivers State on Federal projects.
2. Rivers State was initially denied the refund until proper documentation was provided; a situation which many Rivers watchers will recall, prompted the Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to visit Rivers State in March this year.
3. Rivers State got the approval for the amount of refund simply because Rivers State did the most comprehensive, qualitative and enduring projects.
For record purposes, let us state clearly that President Buhari has the authority to visit any state he wants to in Nigeria, whether he is Invited or not. He is the father of the nation and Rivers State enjoys a candid, honest and robust relationship with the present Federal Government, especially the presidency.
On August 19, 2017, Governor Wike was among the dignitaries that welcomed President Buhari after 103 days in London where he received medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.
While naysayers were busy misinterpreting the gesture, Governor Wike explained that no sane person would not be happy that his sick President was back home.
Recall alsonthat Governor Wike was the first PDP Governor to congratulate President Buhari after his second term election victory was upheld by the Supreme Court in September last year. Indeed, the warm, cordial, respectful relationship between President Buhari and Governor Wike, captured in several widely circulated photographs, of the President’s visit to Rivers State to commission the international wing of the Port Harcourt international airport speaks volumes.
We need not also remind Mr. Adesina that as far back as February 2017, when Governor Wike was not even up to two years in Office, he had already been christened “Mr. Projects” by none other than the Vice President himself, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who not only affirmed that Rivers State was an important state to Nigeria and the Federal Government, but has since endeared himself to Rivers State and Governor Wike.
This brings us nicely to the part of the letter where Governor Wike unequivocally appeals to President Buhari to honour Rivers State with a Presidential state visit and we ask Mr. Femi Adesina: ‘what is wrong with the Rivers State Governor inviting the President for a state visit. Is he not the Father of the nation again. Is Governor Wike not one of his children?
Considering the fact that the approval for the refund was also made for monies expended by Rivers State for Federal Projects, isn’t it equally apt that Governor Nyesom Wike should invite Mr. President to come and at least see the work for which the refund was made? Indeed, it will also provide Mr. President the grand opportunity to see first hand, the amazing and fantastic infrastructural wonders which Governor Wike is delivering in Rivers State. This is absolutely the right thing to do by a grateful recepient.
Governor Wike has aptly pointed out that the decision to thank Mr. President and the appeal to invite him for a state visit was not a personal one, but a collective decision taken by the State Executive Council, to assure Mr. President that all is well with Rivers State and Rivers people are quite happy with him for approving the refund.
Like Femi Adesina correctly noted in his article, the N78.9 billion cannot be the reason for Governor Wike’s thank you letter and invitation to Mr. President. According to him: “I don’t think so. Rivers is by no means a poor state. The amount is handsome, no doubt, but the state is oil rich, and can hold her own when it comes to finances. I don’t agree less with Adesina because Governor Wike does not speak from both sides of his mouth and does not play to the gallery. His moral upbringing makes him to speak the truth at all times not minding whose ox is gored.
Finally, it is important to commend Mr. Adesina for articulating and justifying the decision of Governor
Wike to thank Mr. President and invite him to Rivers State. There is absolutely no doubt, as he so succinctly pointed out, that millions of Buharists would have actually advised the President not to approve the refund to Rivers State, and while many of them are still wailing and bellyaching at the President’s magnanimity, the icing on the refund cake is the chagrin and consternation, which even Adesina admits, has greeted Governor Nyesom Wike’s letter in their camp.
While Rivers people will not complain that the money was actually reduced from the original amount and that it even took so long for President Buhari’s fairness and justice to touch Rivers State, while he has been fair and just to other states, we are all still very happy and grateful that this approval for refund has been made, finally.
Attempts by people like Adesina to make political capital out of the genuine stance of a statesman will not be bought by well-meaning Nigerians.
What makes Adesina’s grandstanding more worrisome is that he will never comment or let the world know how much the South-West States received as refund for federal projects executed in that part of the country.
Governor Wike’s letter of appreciation and appeal for a presidential state visit is thus a clear indication that what the people thought was lost has now been recovered. All is well that ends well and Rivers people are happy.
For the avoidance of doubt, the letter to Mr. President was delivered to Aso Rock, three weeks before it was published.
Governor Wike is not like Adesina who knows how to speak from both sides of his mouth. In 2008, he said this about the Chief of Staff to the President: “Gambari enslaved himself to please his paymasters. Now 13 years after, the shackles are still tied around his neck, threatening to asphyxiate him. What an eternal lesson for fawning bootlicking grovellers to learn. Old sins indeed have long shadows.”
Now that Gambari is Chief of Staff to the President, people have been asking if Adesina still sees Gambari’s sins’ shadows or he(Adesina) has turned to a bootlicking groveller?
There is no doubt that he is currently savouring the office of Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity as a compensation, having used his positions as former Editor-In-Chief of The Sun Newspapers and President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors to feather his own nest.
Adesina should be told that no amount of political mischief will turn Governor Wike from a hero to a villain in this matter.
The Wike that I know cannot be swayed by pecuniary interests. He will always stand for the truth and defend the interests of Rivers people.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
By Paulinus Nsirim
WIKE: Striving To Make Rivers State Safe
“Fundamentally, during the campaigns, we also promised to secure our State. No government is worth any value if it cannot guarantee the security of lives and property. I assure you that never for a moment will our administration be a captive of politics, when it comes to public security. We have the political will to fight, defeat crimes and criminality in Rivers State. There will be effective coordination, collaboration and synergy with the Federal Government, the law enforcement agencies and our community leaders in the prosecution of the war against cultism, kidnapping and armed robbery. We urge our people to fully co-operate with us in this direction.” – Nyesom Ezenwo Wike These were the words of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in his inaugural address to Rivers people on Friday, May 29, 2015, at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium ,Port Harcourt. Dispassionate analysts and Rivers watchers will agree that the Governor.
By Paulinus Nsirim
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