According to BBC News Africa, President Goodluck Jonathan has now formally announced that by 2019, all Nigerian citizens must hold a valid national electronic identity card especially if they want to vote. From what we gather from the reports, the biometric cards will and can also be used for electronic transactions, giving Nigerians without bank accounts access to financial services. What do we make of this?
Well, first things first. For Nigerians everywhere this news appears to form part of the bigger picture of a brighter future, where there is a more measured and centralized sense of control. From a personal perspective and that of many family, friends and relatives, it is great to see president Jonathan taking initiative with the issue of order and structure to our society. According to the president, “The card is not only a means of certifying your identity but also a personal database repository and payment card, all in your pocket. I have taken keen interest in this project, primarily because of the pervasive impact it can have on every facet of the socio-economic fabric of our dear nation.” Impressive. With the fast-paced technological world developing all the time, we certainly can see the positive effect this new development could have on Nigerians everywhere. It keeps the country up to date with developments abroad, with countries such as the U.K introducing contactless payment cards. At home, this will be a useful tool for the government to collate information about its citizens, which could prove beneficial in the long term in sustaining an effective tax or health system in the future. For many members of society, this could be an avenue into opening that boutique business they’ve been dreaming of. For others, there may be concerns as to the dangers of one loosing his or her card. Based on the president’s comments, each person could in future essentially carry a card that reveals personal details about themselves in their pockets and we have to ask, How safe can that be? For those of us already with debit/credit cards we are certain that most of us have had to order replacements at some point (If you happen to be that rare person that has kept all their cards without ever misplacing, we salute you). We panic when we lose our car keys or debit/credit cards, our favourite book, how much more if or when we loose our ID?? As the population of Nigeria is in its hundreds of millions, we just hope that there is also a process being put in place to erase or stop information from these cards when it is no longer with the card owner or reported stolen. One thing is for sure, we don’t need another avenue for 419 scams. We have enough of those already!
What are your thoughts?