Over 97 million Nigerians—almost half of the country’s population—have now been captured on the National Identity Data Base (NIDB), according to the latest figures from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) published on its Enrolment Dashboard.
The NIDB was established in 2007 to integrate all identity documents into the National Identification Number (NIN), the eleven-digit number that identifies all citizens and legal residents in Nigeria.
Per NIMC, enrolment figures as of March 24, 2023, stood at over 97.49 million unique records. The highest cumulative enrolment figure of over 10.7 million was recorded in Lagos State, while regional figures indicated an almost equal distribution across the North and South. By gender distribution, 55,229,381—representing 56.6% of the total enrolment figures—are male, while 42,260,974—43.4%—are female.
Last December, the Director General of the NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, said that the NIN enrollment hit over 93.5 million in the national database. Interestingly, the national ID database targets 148 million enrolments by July 2024.
Reports indicate that Nigerians applying for international passports would be charged N1,000 in Nigeria for verifying their NIN. The NIMC, in a statement, said the fee is to improve the quality of service, accuracy, and speed of passport services through timely verification of NIN.
NIN enrolment by states
According to the latest NIMC numbers, the top 10 states for NIN enrolment include Lagos with a total of 10,724,072, followed by Kano (8,506,448), Kaduna (5,914,226) and Ogun (4,094,559). Others are Oyo (3,818,316), FCT Abuja (3,353,359), Katsina (3,333,337), Rivers (2,931,643), Bauchi (2,636,414), and Delta (2,601,782).
The ten bottom states in NIN enrolment include Akwa-Ibom (1,663,890), Imo State (1,637,750), Enugu (1,565,281), Yobe (1,488,460) and Taraba (1,426,906). The rest are Cross-River (1,116,213), Ekiti (994,219), Ebonyi (779,899), Bayelsa (617,398), and Diaspora (387,089).
The bumpy road to a digital national database
Spurred by the need to create a national identification system, former President Jonathan Goodluck launched the National Electronic (e-ID) card in 2014. The smart card, powered by MasterCard, was supposed to facilitate electronic payments, access social services, and act as a “personal database repository”.
For one, the Jonathan presidency and the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari both instituted policies to encourage and enforce the continued enrolment of NIN as part of efforts to establish a digital national database.
Sections 27 and 29 of the NIMC Act 2007 [pdf] provide for the mandatory use of NIN for transactions, including the application and issuance of a passport, the opening of personal bank accounts, the purchase of insurance policies, voter registration, and obtaining credit, among others. Using certain social infrastructure without the number attracts a fine, imprisonment of up to 14 years or both.
In 2020, the Federal government secured a World Bank credit facility of $430 million for the NIMC under the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (DI4D). The government would later introduce a policy that mandated the linkage of NIN with Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.
In line with the policy, mobile operators barred over 72.77 million active telephone lines from making calls over failure to link their NINs to their SIM cards. This, of course, came after a series of extensions of the implementation deadline. Even the NIMC server responsible for the backend integration of NINs suffered multiple glitches.
But, not only Nigerians—who had to spend long hours in queues at NIMC offices nationwide—felt the heat of the policy. The telecoms industry had its fair share of troubles too. The NCC said that since the initial restriction in 2020, telcos had lost over 15.5 million customers. Customers were able to register their sim cards after the prohibition was lifted. The prohibition was re-enforced in April 2022, and over 72.77 million users were affected.