How Nigeria Wastes Billions On Data Capturing (biometrics)

Many Nigerians probably must have
participated in not less than four data
capturing processes in the last seven years, with
government agencies collecting the same set of
information including biometrics each time.

• Banks spend N45b on BVN
• SIM card registration gulps N46.1b
• FG okays N30.7b for identity cards
• Voters registration costs N87b

The multiple data capturing and registration
exercises in the country are costing
government billions of naira which, according
to stakeholders, amount to duplication and
waste of human and financial resources.

Many Nigerians probably must have
participated in not less than four data
capturing processes in the last seven years,
with government agencies collecting the same
set of information including biometrics each

These exercises include the voters’ registration
through the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC); Bank Verification Number
(BVN) through the financial institutions;
international passport registration through the
Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS);
registration of Subscribers Identification
Module (SIM) through the Mobile Network
Operators (MNOs) and the Nigerian
Communications Commission (NCC); Driver’s
Licence through the Federal Road Safety
Commission (FRSC) and lately the National
Identity Number and Electronic Identification
Card through the National Identity
Management Commission (NIMC).

It was learnt that the National Population
Commission (NPC) is also warming up for
another data capturing should it get the nod to
go ahead with its planned 2018 census.Attempt
by police authorities to introduce another
biometric capturing last year for use by the
security agents had to be stopped by a court
following public outcry against the exercise.

A senior executive in one of the new
generation banks told The
Guardian anonymously that banks spent close
to N45 billion on the BVN registrations.Since
February 14, 2014 when BVN was launched by
the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the
Bankers’ Committee in collaboration with all
banks in the country and February 2017, about
51.7 million accounts have been registered.

Within the last five years, the NCC and the
MNOs spent over N46.1 billion on SIM
registrations, which also included biometric
capturing. Specifically, while NCC spent about
N6.1 billion, the GSM operators, including
MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile (Etisalat)
jointly spent about N40 billion.

On September 28, 2011, the Federal Executive
Council under former President Goodluck
Jonathan had okayed N30.66 billion to NIMC to
embark on the provision of an electronic
national identity card for all Nigerians of 18
years old and above in the first phase of the
exercise.The then Minister of Information,
Labaran Maku, at the end of the meeting,
explained that the e-national identity would
assist Nigeria tackle some security issues as
well as solve so many challenges of statistics in
various sectors of the economy.

The Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz,
revealed recently that out of the 18.5 million
enrolments and registrations made since 2012,
when the project started, the commission has
only been able to issue 1.2 million cards.
According to a report, in 2015, the INEC spent
about N87 billion on voters’ registration and
other data-capturing activities.To a telecoms
expert, Kehinde Aluko, the seeming confusion
arising from the uncoordinated biometric
collection and storage should be resolved in
favour of a single useful database.

Aluko urged NIMC to collaborate with NPC and
other agencies involved in data collection in
accelerating the harmonisation of the various
databases currently existing in silos in the
country.In an interaction with journalists, the
President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS),
Prof. Shola Aderounmu, said current
multifarious databases in the country created
general inconveniences to citizens, who
repeatedly have to queue long hours for

The President, Association of
Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria
(ATCON), Olusola Teniola, in an interview
with The Guardian, noted that the multiple
exercises indicate a lack of a data template
required to capture the different types of
information sought by each agency and
company in the case of BVN and SIM
According to Olusola, the cost of these
exercises is increasing because Nigeria suffers
from a science-technology deficit, where
adoption of technology is done from different
sources and no collaborative thought is given
to the national outcome.Commenting on the
matter, the Director General, Delta State
Innovation Hub, Chris Uwaje, said data,
database and biometrics are strictly software
issues of the IT profession, stressing that this
unique domain drives the World ICT
Ecosystem today.

Uwaje, a former President of the Institute of
Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON),
noted that costs of biometrics applications and
solutions vary, depending on needs and
intensity of requirement.

Uwaje, who recommended the establishment of
the office of the IT General of the Federation,
said it may be difficult to calculate the amount
the country has lost to these duplicated

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