By Promise Godfery, Abuja
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has expressed concern over reported plan by the federal government to replace the Bank Verification Number (BVN) with National Identity Number (NIN).
The CUPP said the plan should be shelved. Because Nigerians have developed trust and confidence in BVN, stressing that since it was adopted by the nation’s banks as an authentic means of identifying customers of various accounts, there has not been any significant abuse of BVN nationwide.
The CUPP said it is not alarmed by the hasty plan by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to use the NIN to replace BVN, but lamented that it is also suspicious.
The communications ministry had stated that: “BVN is a regulator’s policy, while NIN is a law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which supersedes a policy of any subsector of the economy, and that BVN is the nation’s secondary data while NIN and the database is the primary one to be used by all ministries, departments, agencies, institutions and organizations, promising adequate security of the database to avoid compromise and abuse”.
CUPP therefore expresses lack of confidence in the plan.
The Coalition stated in a press release by its contact and mobilization spokesman, Rev Olusegun Peters: “CUPP has no confidence in the ability of Federal civil servants to secure personal data of Nigerians due to corruption inherent in the system as they dance to the musical tune of their employers who may be acting political scripts or seeking vendetta of real or imaginary enemies.
“The banks should continue to use the BVN while NIN will be used for sundry national identification of the citizenry. This is to avoid fraudulent financial practices in the banks which BVN drastically reduced by banks dedicated staff.
“The clumsy directive by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in December 2020 for Nigerians to register for NIN and link it to their SIM cards within six weeks which was later extended, and the stampede it caused in at various National Identification Management Commission registration centres in the country amidst COVID-19 pandemic is a classical example of an ill-conceived directive and poor implementation of critical national matter. Hapless Nigerians were forced to bribe NIMC officials before they were registered. It was not so during the banks registration of BVN”.
CUPP observed that presently, millions of Nigerians are yet to register for NIN and link it to their SIM cards due to awkward registration process and directive including not to register new SIM cards.
It said in view of all the hassles involved, Nigerians should not be over burdened again but should be given adequate time to register for NIN. “It should be a continuous process. This cannot be done by executive fiat”. The Coalition insists.
CUPP argues: “In this era of aggravated cyber crimes which yahoo-yahoo boys are on rampage hacking individual and corporate accounts, the need to protect citizens’ data cannot be overemphasized. The ugly incidents of fraudsters calling fellow compatriots and proudly telling them their NIN show how porous the nation’s database is. It is a cause of concern to patriotic Nigerians which must be checked and controlled to guarantee public safety and confidentiality of transactions.”
The Coalition therefore urges the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to consider the plights of Nigerians struggling to register for NIN and make it a continuous exercise like the INEC continuous voter registration and BVN.