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Building trust infrastructure in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

Nigeria is regarded as a low-trust nation; a defence mechanism attribute.

The building of trust infrastructure is the most important factor in promoting trade and economy in a society. Its prioritization will enable people to venture into commerce, and reduce transaction cost which will aid strong development. Resultantly, the need to establish trust is highly significant. Currently, Nigeria is known as a low-trust society. In reference to slave trade, approximately 30 percent of people who were kidnapped and sold into slavery in Nigeria were betrayed by people they know.

Overtly, low-trust has been built as a defence mechanism in cultures, and even the modern Nigeria by the government or individuals and the consequences for breaking the trust of the society is not severe. Unfortunately, these have prevented the development of the economy in the greatest meaningful ways. Nevertheless, careful investment can ensure trust infrastructure through systematic manners, attracting severe costs on anybody that damages its value, be it governments, individuals or corporates. Necessarily, four building blocks will be used to achieve it.

There are four building blocks to achieve this goal.

To achieve this trust infrastructure, the first block is the establishment of centralised digital identity management system for the country. The National Identity Number (NIN) is the current identification system developed by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), accounting for 98.7 million identification numbers in 1st May, 2023. Nevertheless, there are other identity management data developed by other bodies in Nigeria such as Bank Verification Number (BVN) issued by Nigerian Interbank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS), Voter Cards issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Company Registration Data developed by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

An intuitive mapping of locations in Nigeria is the second block. This is a linkage between identity management system and the mapped location. This is limited to urban areas for the existence of postcodes, while they break down in rural areas which will only result to less detailed information for description which are inaccurate. An appropriately detailed country map is required; it should be well-planned for ensuring a uniform system. A behaviour linkage is the third block. There is tax payment behaviour, traffic and driving behaviour, company ownership, and the less visible insurance behaviour.

Out of 200 million Nigerians, only 98.7 million have NIN.

Additionally, the fourth block refers to incentives which can be used for building trust infrastructure and necessary for maintenance of its integrity. Moreover, the three blocks must be established before the goal of the fourth block can be achieved to build trust infrastructure. It is believed that various bodies such as NIMC, NCC, NIBSS, etc., should be united under one ministerial control. The unified trust management body ought to unify all existing identity data into the framework of the NIN. Also, BVN, Death Record, CAC Number, Insurance Policy Number, Passport Number, Drivers License Number, Tax ID, Birth Record must be verified with this NIN for easy trace of identity on the Identity management data.

At the technical level, the backend linkages can conduct a well-structured project within 12 or 15 months. Although Nigeria’s total population is estimated at 200 million, there are only 98.7 million NIN identification in Nigeria. This makes the statistics incomplete and inaccurate, and as a result, the upcoming census is significant. NPC requested huge funds to see the census successful and to solve issues like the mapping issue and linkage of all identity management data to accurate mapped locations through the NIN. Smart devices, INEC BVAS, should be used for Census enumerators for facial recognition on NIN database and to leverage fingerprint, or registered phone number.

ID system can be used for evaluation of potential tenants by landlords.

Importantly, this identity will ensure uniqueness which will include biometric data, merging the name and address of a person together. The census will be an harmonised exercise, while executing the three blocks before the incentives block. The use of this design can also help with housing issues for agents and landlords to use the ID system to evaluate the NIN identity of a potential tenant. It can also be included in rental agreements . The incentive design also works with the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

Related Link

NIMC: Website

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