By Ismaila Chafe
The Federal Government says Nigerians can now request their commercial banks to issue them with a debit card which doubles as their National Identity Card at no extra cost.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, who disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja, said the approval was obtained at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He explained that the approval followed a memo from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) allowing banks to print a multipurpose debit cards that double as National identity cards.
He said: ”It is going to be a form of multipurpose card where it will serve as your national identity card on one hand and also your bank card on the other hand, either Mastercard, Visa or any other kind of card.”
According to Pantami, although the NIMC Act 2007 only mandates Nigerians to have a National Identity Number and not necessarily a printout card, demands for cards have swelled nonetheless.
“As in the NIMC Act 2007, section 27, what is mandatory for our citizens and legal residents is the acquiring of the National Identity Number, not the card. However, the card is optional.
“But many citizens, particularly those living in rural communities, always go to NIMC offices complaining that they need the card at hand, even though it’s optional.
“To make it easier, NIMC last year, we introduced a smart ID card you can download from NIMC app. It is just a smart card. You don’t need to have it physically, but that is becoming difficult for our people living in rural communities.”
To ease the difficulty, Pantami said NIMC had partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria ”so that citizens who are interested in having a card at hand can easily go to the relevant banks.”
According to him, the bank is permitted to print the card along with either Mastercard or Visa card.
”It is going to be a form of multipurpose card that will serve as your national identity card on one hand and also your bank card on the other. And based on the agreement, it is without any additional costs on our citizens.
“So when you apply for a card at your bank, you can indicate that ‘I want this card to be multiple purpose where it will serve as my bank card and also my national identity card’.
”Both of them are going to be printed on the same card and it is going to serve the same purposes without any additional costs,”
The Minister disclosed that NIMC and the CBN signed a nondisclosure agreement to protect the privacy and confidentiality of card applicants.
“NIMC and the central bank signed a nondisclosure agreement where your privacy and your confidentiality must be respected in the course of providing the card for you.
“When you apply for the card, the bank will apply online to NIMC through their database.
”When they verify and confirm that your record in the database is in alignment with your record in NIMC database, it will be permitted and the card is going to be printed for you immediately,” the minister added.
The Minister also said that FEC also approved a memo proposing the deployment of an automated system to integrate NINs with individual SIM cards.
The system, he noted, would consolidate the implementation of the NIN-SIM linkage.
He said “As we all know that previous administrations made efforts to verify NIN and SIM starting from 2011 without success.
”In February 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of the policy and the revised version of the policy was also launched and unveiled by Mr. President on May 6, 2021.
“As it stands today, the NIN and SIM policy registration is being implemented. In order to consolidate the implementation.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission came up with a proposal that will enhance the implementation of the policy and bring many more benefits to it.”
Pantami said the automated system would sanitise the database and ease the process of SIM replacement for Nigerians or legal residents.
FEC approves multi-million naira power projects in Daura, others.
The Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, also disclosed that the Council approved multi billion naira contracts to boost power supply in Daura, Katsina State, Yobe as well as other parts of the country.
He said: “Council approved award of contract for the engineering procurement, construction and financing on the implementation of 330 KV and 132 kV line transmission lines and 33 KV, 11 KV and 400 PE distribution line project under phase 1 of the presidential power initiatives.
He revealed that the project was awarded in favour of two contractors in the sum total of $581,629,355.93, inclusive of 7.5%, at the prevailing exchange rate with period of completion 36 months as indicated.
“The recipient companies for lot one, from DL from Benin and Enugu DISCOS, Messes SLD electric.
”Then, Lot DM 3 Abuja, Jos, Kano, Kaduna DISCOS, Messrs China civil engineering construction cooperation totaling distance of around 13,000 kilometers for the two LOT and it has been graciously approved by council,” he added.
The minister also disclosed that the Council approved the award of contract for the construction of 750 kilowatt solar PV power plant at the headquarters of where TCN is also situated in the sum of N1.6 billion with completion period of six months.”
He said: “Council also approved a routine maintenance for the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
”The council approved contract for the upgrading of the substation in Potiskum town in Yobe State with 132 power transformer.
”It is an existing substation, which has been there for a very long time with only one transformer and it serves a lot of areas around Potiskum.
“It is the largest town in the State with a very huge population and is the hub for commerce and transportation.
”So, with this upgrade, Potiskum will become a hub for electricity transmission and distribution.
“The other component of it is the line bringing additional line from Damaturu. Before now, the line is coming from Gombe, which is over 200 kilometers. It is a 132 single line coming into Potiskum to power the substation.
”So, having now 330 substitution in Damaturu, that makes it easier and more prudent to take electricity from from Damaturu to Potiskum over a distance of 120 kilometers. Because the longer you take the electricity on a 132 line, you get low quality of electricity.”
The minister also stated that the Council approved construction of two by 60 MBA and 132 line a transmission substation at Sapade in Ogun, at the total cost of a foreign component 10.2 million dollars and local component of N3.3 billion.
‘ ‘The third one is the supply and installation of 33 KV substation equipment at Emirate Katsina state, in favor of eases Power Deal Construction limited in the sum of N4 billion,” he said.
Meanwhile, the outgoing Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has advocated for abolition of the position of Minister of State in the Federal Cabinet, saying it is an out of the law of the nation to appoint a Minister of State.
Keyamo made his feelings known during the FEC valedictory session presided over by President Buhari to mark the end of the Federal Executive Council, under the Buhari administration at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The Minister of State, who commended the President for enriching his Curriculum Vitae, through the appointment, noted that some other Ministers of State, had been grumbling and unable to be bold and speak out.
According to him, it will be difficult to assess the individual performances of the Ministers of State since their discretion was shackled under the discretion of the ‘superior Ministers’.
He said that original ideas developed by a Minister of State were subject to clearance by another colleague in cabinet before they could sail through for consideration by Council.
He said: “Mr. President, you first appointed me as Minister of State in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in August, 2019 and you later redeployed me as Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“Today, I cannot find the words to express the depth of my gratitude to you for finding me worthy, out of over two hundred million Nigerians, to be nominated and subsequently appointed to serve as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
”My curriculum vitae has been greatly enhanced – forever.
“What I am about to say, therefore, is not and should not be construed as an indication of ingratitude. Far from it.
“What I am about to say is just my own little contribution to our constitutional development as a relatively young democracy and to aid future governments to optimize the performance of those they appoint as Ministers.
“Mr. President, the concept or designation of “Minister of State” is a constitutional aberration and is practically not working for many so appointed.
Successive governments have come and gone and many who were appointed as Ministers of State have not spoken out at a forum such as this because of the risk of sounding ungrateful to the Presidents who appointed them.
”However, like I said earlier, this is not ingratitude.
“As a private citizen, I am on record to have gone to court a number of times to challenge unconstitutional acts of governments for the sake of advancing our constitutional democracy.
”So it will be out of character for me to have gone through government and be carried away by the pomp of public office and forget my role as a member of the Inner Bar and my self-imposed role over the years as a crusader for democracy and constitutionalism.”