Buhari Did Not Order National ID Card Use For 2019 Elections – Presidency

President Buhari Did Not Order National ID Cards Use For 2019 PollsThe Presidency has denied claims in the media that President Buhari has given “orders” that national identity cards be used in the 2019 elections.

The statement from the Office of the Vice President was in reaction to newspaper reports on Friday which referred to the Vice President’s speech delivered on Thursday by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Ade Ipaye at the Policy Roundtable on Identity Eco-System in the country to make the claim.

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, insisted that no such orders were made by the President and the said speech by the Vice President made no mention of the 2019 elections at all.

According to him, what the speech said was that the President has taken an initiative to harmonize identity management in the country so as to ensure that every Nigerian has a unique identifier.

And in the same vein, the speech added that it is the “President’s charge that the national identification number, (NIN) is used to authenticate eligible voters in the near future, as well as in the areas of access to health insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to social welfare, financial transactions, etc”.

Mr Akande then explained: “What this means is that such a unique identifier as the NIN can, when eventually issued, help to confirm age and nationality status of eligible voters, for instance. Or even help determine eligibility of persons presenting themselves for health, social welfare, financial and other available services in the country.

“The President was not giving any directive to INEC or any order regarding 2019.

“Mr. President and this administration fully respect the autonomy of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and also very determined to preserve the integrity of the electoral process at all times.”

The full text of Vice President Osinbajo’s speech at the Policy Round-Table Meeting On Identity Eco-System is published on channelstv.com

VP Osinbajo’s Speech At The Policy Round-Table Meeting On Identity Eco-System

KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF HIS EXCELLENCY, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO,  SAN, GCON, AT THE POLICY ROUND-TABLE MEETING ON IDENTITY ECO-SYSTEM HELD ON THURSDAY 08 DECEMBER 2016 AT THE STATE HOUSE BANQUET HALL, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ASOKORO, ABUJA, NIGERIA

Protocols

I am delighted to welcome you all to this policy roundtable on identity management in Nigeria. I am particularly happy with the representation of all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the World Bank and other Development Assistance Agencies here today. The importance of this policy discussion necessitated my acceptance to chair the meeting, which is aimed at optimising the benefits of digital identity and leveraging its use for accelerating development. The particular focus on harmonisation and integration of disparate government identity management databases is of course a matter of crucial importance to Nigeria.

Identity plays a pivotal role in our lives and cuts across so many sectors of the economy. As a government, we recognise the huge importance of moving towards a Digital Government. Therefore, we must embrace and harness the potentials inherent in digital identity to build and develop our country. Nations all over the world and, in particular, developed countries, have utilized identity as a foundation to transforming governance and enhancing service delivery in the areas of healthcare, agriculture, voting, transportation, financial inclusion, access to basic services and welfare programmes, amongst others.

A case in point is Estonia, a country of just over 1.3m population (WorldBank estimate in 2016). According to Digital Nomads, “Estonia currently has one of the most advanced e-government systems in the world. This includes a single digital ID that enables citizens to access all of its secure services. Applicants can obtain a digital ID that will let them register their business within a day, open a bank account, use e-tax services and sign contracts from anywhere in the world. There, you don’t need to input any data manually for your tax declaration as all data is gathered and prepared automatically. And it can make digital nomad life and business much easier.”

The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has commenced work on the harmonisation of all our disparate Identity Management Systems into a concise system to ensure completeness, accuracy and integrity of such a national asset. In this regard, I believe that Nigeria must use its digital strategy to establish a global reputation for technological leadership and business dynamism, building digital ecosystems in which innovation can thrive. We will invest in smart infrastructure, platforms, and services; digitise our records and classify them accordingly; review and upgrade the legal and regulatory framework; and nurture digital talent.

Virtually all the developed nations have a single identifier that forms the core of their identity. For instance, in the UK, it is the National Insurance Number, which is mandatory to have as soon as a citizen turns 16 years of age and becomes eligible to work and pay tax accordingly. In the USA, it is the Social Security Number and, in India, it is called the Aadahar number. This unique number, which encapsulates the identity of the individual, is used for all of the activities relating to the identification of the person – in terms of planning for security, health, immigration, budget, etc. An accurate identity management system with quality data is no doubt a national asset to a country. It is time for Nigeria to also offer a unique identity to every person in the country.  Nigeria as a global player and a developing nation must work towards leveraging digital identity as a reliable tool for uniquely identifying its citizenry and residents and accelerating socio economic development.

I am aware that different sectors in Nigeria in response to their peculiar needs, have developed a means to identify individuals in order to perform their specific statutory functions. This has resulted in duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, uncoordinated identity approach, as well as unreliable identity information due to lack of interoperability and disconnected databases. The importance of the confidentiality of the information/data inherent in the identity management system cannot be over-emphasised. We must therefore ensure absolute integrity and security of this information.

It is important that, as a nation, we have an interoperable and connected system to verify that each person or beneficiary is who he claims to be. Our strategic plans, as a government, in the area of identification scheme must therefore converge to make harmonization and integration of the existing and new databases a reality.

Our policies must be articulated and refined in such a way that government agencies must work together; collaborate with each other, share infrastructure and government investments to serve their customers who are potentially the same citizens and residents. The fiscal cost of implementing disparate and unconnected biometric-linked identity databases is increasingly becoming a huge burden and needs to be streamlined going forward as government cannot continue to fund the unnecessary duplication of efforts and overlapping identity functions that further deplete its scarce resources. Clearly, there are potentially large benefits from the integration of the ID programs of our government institutions and we must take advantage of the opportunity that has been presented for us to get it right.

As we endeavour to resolve the identity management system challenges, we will also ensure that other forms of identification such as Drivers’ License, International Passports are aligned and in sync. The President has already taken the initiative in recognising the importance of identity and a harmonized identity management system. That is why there was a directive from my office in December 2015 for all stakeholders who have built independent identity management systems to consolidate, aggregate and integrate existing databases as a way to accelerate and scale up the national identity database so as to offer every person a unique identifier. I am aware that a lot of work has been done in this regard by all of the stakeholders represented here. However, it is the President’s charge that the national identification number (NIN) is used to authenticate eligible voters in the near future, as well as in the areas of access to health insurance, registration of SIM cards, access to social welfare, financial transactions, etc.

The development of identity program in Nigeria will greatly help the nation leverage on its potential to improve security of lives and properties, advance service delivery, and fight poverty and corruption. Achieving full scale national Identity management would boost our efforts at better tracking the movement of people, while minimizing issues with external border controls and terrorism. We have an opportunity to change and transform our country and I believe everyone here has a role to play in the growth and development of our nation through digital identity.

I want to commend the World Bank for its concern and interest in the development of the identity ecosystem of Nigeria, including the harmonisation and integration of many disparate  of government identity management databases; and for sponsoring this roundtable meeting. Furthermore, I want to also commend other Donor agencies who have expressed willingness and readiness to support the Nigerian Government in the effort to build a robust identification eco system.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, It is on this premise therefore, that I am pleased to convey the support and goodwill of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; to the World Bank, other Donor Agencies and to all the MDAs here present. He demands that you all take up the challenge of giving Nigeria a world-class identity management infrastructure, which will be pivotal to the security and socio-economic transformation of the country. His Excellency, the President appreciates your sponsorship, willingness and readiness to support Nigeria.

With the calibre of people here, I am sure that there will be in-depth policy discussions on strengthening the identity eco system of Nigeria and robust action plans to shape the implementation of the Presidential directive for the alignment of all biometric identity databases in the country.

As I conclude, I wish to stress the fact that this meeting is not for us to analyze why the policy cannot work or why more time is needed. This policy meeting is for us to reach a common understanding on what our nation needs right now, what business model and approach should be adopted in ensuring that everyone in Nigeria has a unique identity (an identifier that serves the public and private sectors alike) and consider options and strategies for  streamlining activities of MDAs and optimizing the use of scarce government resources in achieveing a common goal on identification as  an enabler.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my singular honor and pleasure to declare this meeting open.

I thank you all and wish you fruitful deliberation.

God bless you, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Released by:

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

December 9, 2016

President Jonathan Condoles Zambians On Death Of President Sata

SataThe Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has received with sadness, news of the passing away of President Michael Sata of Zambia in a London Hospital on Tuesday.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Reuben Abati, on behalf of the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria, President Jonathan extended condolences to the government and people of Zambia on the death of President Sata who has led his country since 2011.

“President Jonathan’s deepest sympathies are with the people of Zambia and President Sata’s family as they mourn their leader, patriarch, nationalist and patriot who will always be remembered for his uncompromising stand against neo-colonialism and any semblance of renewed imperialism in Zambia and Africa as a whole.

“As they mourn President Sata and prepare to lay him to rest, President Jonathan urges the brotherly people of Zambia to commit themselves fully to a peaceful and orderly succession in keeping with the principles of democracy and the country’s constitution,” the statement read.

He prayed that God Almighty would comfort the people of Zambia and grant them a worthy successor to President Sata who would keep the country on an even keel and ensure that it continues to make steady progress for the benefit of its people.

Ramadan: Jonathan Urges Nigerian Muslims To Pray For Peace And Security

JonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan salutes all Muslims in Nigeria as they begin the 2014 Ramadan fast, urging them to rededicate themselves to the virtues of piety, tolerance and fairness to all.

As they joined fellow adherents of the faith in other parts of the world in undergoing the strictures and spiritual purification of the annual Ramadan fast against the background of security challenges in the country, President Jonathan has urged Nigerian Muslims to offer special prayers during the period for greater peace and security in the nation.

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the President reassured the entire nation that the Federal Government continues to work tirelessly to curb insurgency, terrorism and other criminal acts which have caused insecurity in parts of the country.

He urged Nigerians “not to succumb to despair, but to remain steadfast in the firm conviction that with courage, determination, focus, decisiveness and collective support for the Armed Forces and security agencies, the country would ultimately overcome the evil agents of sectionalism, sectarianism and international terrorism who seek to disunite the nation.”

As they observe the Ramadan, President Jonathan also called on Nigerian Muslims to rededicate themselves in fuller measure to the virtues of piety, self-discipline, tolerance, equity, honesty, fairness and sympathy for the less privileged which the Holy month promotes.

The President joined all people of faith in praying that God Almighty would grant Nigeria greater peace, security, unity and national harmony.

He wished the Muslim community a rewarding and spiritually gratifying Ramadan fast.

FG Debunks Alleged Plan To Spend $800 Million On Image Laundering

The Federal Government of Nigeria says that it has no plan to spend $800 million on image laundering as its topmost priority now is National Security, not Public Relations.

The Presidency, in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati,stated that reports in national and foreign media that the Federal Government was currently in the process of recruiting an international Public Relations firm to “counter mounting criticism both inside and outside the country” are completely false and baseless.

The statement read: “The suggestion that the Federal Government intends to spend a staggering sum of $800 Million on the phantom Public Relations effort to ease ‘increasing pressure over its response to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls’ is also wholly untrue.

“Coming as they do, at a particularly difficult and sensitive time for the entire nation, the Federal Government considers the reports of a drive to recruit consultants to launder its image highly insensitive, deplorable, absurd and very malicious.

“The Federal Government’s topmost priority for now is not Public Relations or image laundering but National Security and the ongoing effort to ensure the safe return of the abducted college girls.”

The statement condemned the rumours, referring to it as “an attempt by purveyors of the bogus reports to incite the Nigerian public against the Federal Government through the circulation of falsehoods.”

Jonathan To Confer With Other African Leaders On Joint Action Against Terrorism

GEJ2The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, will fly to Pretoria, South Africa on Friday for high-level discussions with other African Heads of State and Government on combating terrorism in Africa.

This is according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.

The continent’s five regions would each be represented by two heads of state and government at the talks which would focus on collective action to effectively roll-back the scourge of terrorism in Africa.

Others expected at the talks which would take place ahead of South African President, Jacob Zuma’s inauguration for a new term in office, include the leaders of Ghana, Republic of Congo, Chad, Angola, Rwanda, South Africa, Mauritania, Algeria and Ethiopia.

President Jonathan, who would be accompanied by the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali and some key aides, would return to Abuja after attending President Zuma inauguration on Saturday.

 

Queen Elizabeth II Congratulates President Jonathan And Nigerians On Centenary

Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has written to congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan, the Federal Government and people of Nigeria on the occasion of Nigeria’s centenary celebrations.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, confirmed this in a statement.

Britain’s Minister for Africa, Mr. Mark Simmonds, delivered to President Jonathan late on Wednesday, a written message by Queen Elizabeth II, in which she conveyed her best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the people of Nigeria.

“On the occasion of the Republic of Nigeria celebrating 100 years since the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria, I send the people of Nigeria my warmest congratulations.

“I have fond memories of my first visit to Nigeria in 1956 and again in 2003 as Head of the Commonwealth.

“The links between our two countries have deepened over the past 100 years and I hope they will continue to do so.

“I would like to convey my best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the people of Nigeria,” the British monarch wrote.

President Jonathan To Attend 22nd AU Summit In Addis Ababa

President Goodluck Jonathan will leave Abuja on Wednesday to attend the 22nd Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government, which begins in Addis Ababa on Thursday.

The African Union has declared 2014 as ‘The Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’ and the 22nd summit of African Union Heads of State and Government will have “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Developmentas its theme.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Reuben Abati, President Jonathan and other participating Heads of State and Government will formally launch the ‘Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’ which coincides with the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme.

They will also consider and adopt the reports of high-level committees on the Assessment of the African Standby Force and the Operationalization of the African Capacity for Immediate response to Crises, as well as the reports of other high-level committees on United Nations Reforms, the post-2015 Development Agenda, African Trade and Climate Change.

President Jonathan will be accompanied to the summit by Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, the Supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, the Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu and the Supervising Minister of Environment, Mr. Darius Ishaku.

He will return to Abuja at the conclusion of the summit on Friday.