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National Identity: Why Nigeria adopts digital tokens to replace NIN slips ─Minister

Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy

*The Federal Government has explained the tokenisation solution was customised to protect personal identifiable information, and to protect the sanctity, sensitivity of National Identification Numbers the NIMC issues to registered individuals

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As a measure to ensure privacy of personal identifiable information of individual consumers during verification transactions and reduce incidence of illegal retrieval, usage, transfer, and storage of the National Identification Number (NIN), the Federal Government has introduced a suite of digital Tokens to replace the ageing NIN slip and polycarbonate card in Nigeria.

ConsumerConnect reports Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, disclosed this development at a stakeholders’ workshop on NIN Tokenisation Solution organised by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), in Abuja, FCT.

A NIN digital token   Photo: NewsCentral TV

Prof. Pantami said the Nigerian Government adopted the solution in order to ensure privacy of personal identifiable information of individuals during verification transactions and to reduce incidences of illegal retrieval, usage, transfer, and storage of NINs in the country.

RELATED: Nigeria Extends NIN-SIM Integration Till December 2021, Commends Stakeholders On Exercise

Represented at the workshop by Engr. Aliyu Abubakar, Director-General of NIMC, the Minister noted that the full implementation would begin January 1, 2022.

According to Pantami, the tokenisation solution has been customised to protect personal identifiable information, and to protect the sanctity as well as sensitivity of the NIN issued by NIMC to registered individuals.

He stated: “One of the benefits of the virtual NIN is to ensure no third party may carry out any verification, hiding behind a proxy (and without the knowledge of the NIMC, being the Custodian of Identity).

“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.

READ ALSO: NCC Sensitises Telecoms Consumers On NIN-SIM Integration

“The NIN holder is the only exclusive issuer of NIN and cannot be delegated.”

Anonymisation is also catered for with the attachment of the UserID of the verifier to every verification request, adding that no NIN, no verification, said the Minister.

Prof. Pantami further stated that NIN tokens are MDA or merchant-specific, and expire after a set period of time, adding, that a token generated for Company A, for instance, cannot be utilised by Company B in Nigeria.

The Minister also stressed “we must continue to reinforce the need for every Nigerian to have a digital identity, irrespective of social class or economic status, improve access to all and ensure continuous protection of privacy and data of our citizens and other enrollees.

RELATED: NIMC Alerts Nigerians To NIN, National E-ID Card Frauds

“We must sustain the momentum by creating continuous awareness programs and sensitising of the public.

Mr. Tunji Durodola,  Technical Consultant of NIMC on the occasion, also said the Digital Token was designed to replace the 11-digit NIN for everyday usage.

The NIMC Technical Consultant explained that NIN had been shared and stored by various entities mostly without the knowledge consent or consent of the ID holder or NIMC as the custodian of national identity in the country.

Durodola further noted that the improved NIN slip has a smaller form factor, and is available to all who have been issued an active NIN.

Such enhanced NIN slips, he noted, may be purchased without having to visit the NIMC office.

Engr. Aliyu Abubakar, Director-General of NIMC (right) at a NIN registration sensitisation forum

He added: “Some of the prerequisite of tokenisation, one needs a NIN issued by NIMC, mobile number registered in Nigeria and linked to your NIN.”

RELATED NIN Registration: NIMC Launches Mobile App For Enrollment, Authentication

In a similar vein, Hajiya Hadiza Dagabana, Director of Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Services at NIMC, said there was a need for sensitisation of the Nigerian public in this regard.

Hajiya Dagabana said that the tokenisation would be properly disseminated in various local dialects for better understanding of consumers in the country.

The tokenisation comprises 16 Alpha-numeric characters, starting and ending with two letters of the Alphabet.

It is issued by an ID Holder, either via the NIMC MWS Mobile ID apps or via USSD on a feature phone and only by the NIMC, while a mobile number linked to a In is required to participate.

A minor Number linked to a NIN is required to participate, according to the national identity management regulators in Nigeria.

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