Nigerians, according to the Federal Government, can now request that their commercial banks issue them a debit card that also serves as their national identity card.

Prof Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, made the announcement in Abuja on Wednesday. He stated that this issuance is free of charge.

Pantami stated that the approval was obtained at the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He stated that the approval came as a result of a memo from the National Identity Management Commission that authorized banks to print multipurpose debit cards that also functioned as National identity cards.

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The Minister explained that ”It is going to be a form of the 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 the 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 a Mastercard or Visa card.

”It is going to be a form of a 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 to our citizens.

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“So when you apply for a card at your bank, you can indicate that ‘I want this card to be multiple purposes 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. He assured the privacy and confidentiality of card users.

Pantami further stated that, when a person requests for the card, the bank will need to connect to the NIMC through their database.

He said that afterward, the bank verifies the person’s details which must be in tandem with the record in the NIMC database. Then, the card will be printed immediately for the user.

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 sanitize the database and ease the process of SIM replacement for Nigerians or legal residents.

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