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One billion people lack basic proof of identification

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National identity card by NIMC


• ID key to financial, social services
About one billion people across the globe currently lack basic proof of identification. There are over seven billion people in the world.
   
The lack of basic identity is said to have denied them access to basic social services, especially in developing countries.According to a GoalKeepers report of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which identified this limitation, an individual’s ability to prove who he or she is, is key to accessing financial and social services, as well as securing rights (like voting) and seizing economic opportunities like registration of business.
  
The report, which was unveiled at the GoalKeepers Conference in New York, USA, tagged: “Examining Inequality 2019”, said with one billion people lacking basic proof of ID, as many as half of the world’s population still lack ID that authorities routinely trust and accept.
   
According to it, there is still an ID gender gap in low-income countries, with only 55 per cent of women able to prove their identity compared to 70 per cent of men. 
   
The GoalKeepers report noted that gender inequality stacks the deck against half of humanity and cuts across every single country on earth.In Nigeria, The Guardian checks showed that the Federal Government, through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), is making efforts to provide a national identity database for all Nigerians.
   
Earlier in the year, the NIMC Director-General, Aliyu Aziz, said the country was on the right track towards ensuring that Nigerians and legal residents have digital identities.
  
“When I assumed office in 2015, enrolment was at seven million, and as at today, NIMC has about 35 million records in its database,” Aziz said.He attributed part of the successes to the NIMC gazetted regulations of 2017, which makes the NIN mandatory for acquiring services like international passport, insurance, pension, bank transactions, and other government services.
   
Another factor to this success, according to him, is the harmonisation of data with the bank verification number (BVN), subscriber identity module (SIM) registration, voters’ registration, Passport and driver’s licence.“No matter where you are born, your life will be harder if you are born a girl. If you are born in a poor country or district, it will be even harder. Adolescence is when girls’ and boys’ futures really start to diverge. Boys’ worlds expand. They rely less on their parents, venture farther and farther from home, and enrol in high school or college or get a job, which puts them in contact with wider society,” it said.
   
Furthermore, the Goalkeepers’ report also observed that education is not enough to bridge the gender divide. “In some countries where girls tend to be well-educated they are still underrepresented in the workforce because they also face discriminatory norms and policies.
 
“Africa’s youth population (people aged 0 to 24 years) is booming while the rest of the world is shrinking,” the report noted.
   
The median age across Africa is 18; it is 35 in North America, and 47 in Japan.The report also showed that in Nigeria, child mortality rate reduced from 109 per 1,000 births in 2017, to 104 per 1,000 live births in 2018, while child stunting reduced from 38.14 per cent in 2017, to 36.74 per cent last year.   

To address persistent inequality and other gaps, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called for a new approach to development, targeting the poorest people in the countries and districts that need to make up the most ground.    

The Foundation stressed that governments should prioritise primary healthcare to deliver a health system that works for the poorest, digital governance to ensure that governments are responsive to their least-empowered citizens, and more support for farmers to help them adapt to climate change’s worst effects.
   
Furthermore, the Goalkeepers’ report said poverty is concentrating on just a handful of very fast-growing countries. Nigeria still has the second-highest number of deaths of children aged five and under. It tags behind India.The report recommended that “human capital investments should be designed to reach girls and prioritise those countries and districts that have to make up the most ground.”

 


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Aliyu AzizNIMC
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