The Federal Government on Tuesday described the Bank Verification Number (BVN) issued to bank customers as illegal, working to replace it with the National Identity Numbers (NIN).
EyewitnessMedia gathered that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, made this known shortly after a tour of telecoms operators and NIN licensees in Abuja, noting that President Muhammadu Buhari has been briefed on the on-going NIN registrations across the country.
Pantami, who said Buhari was happy with the conduct of the exercise so far, added that he had also briefed the National Economic Sustainability Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the imperative of replacing BVN with NIN.
Pantami argued that while BVN was only for account holders with various banks, NINs are for all Nigerians irrespective of their status.
Responding to challenges encountered by those with the BVN data trying to upgrade with NIN data, Pantami said: “The challenge is that the BVN records may not be 100 per cent, the same with NIN, but what is most important is that the NIN is the primary identity of each and every citizens, including legal residents.
“BVN is a policy of a bank and has not been established by law. NIN is the only mandatory number and the primary identification of our citizens and every other identification is secondary.
“The NIMC Act 2007 provides that all our citizens must be enrolled and the law gives them 60 days to enroll from the time the law was enacted and a maximum of 180 days and all permanent residents in the country and legal residents that have to stay here for a minimum of 24 months must be enrolled.
“So, this is the primary identification of all and all other data bases are supposed to utilise this and not for NIN to utilise the BVN because it is the primary one.
“We discussed with the CBN governor today on how to ensure that all our citizens with BVN will immediately be provided with the NIN. We are working on that but facilitating the process lies on CBN to make it much easier for our people.“
Asked to clarify the government’s position on the BVN replacement with NIN, Pantami said: ”I made a presentation to the National Economic Sustainability Committee and I drew the attention of the CBN governor that we need to replace BVN with NIN because the BVN is a bank policy while NIN is a law.”
“Because it has been established by law so the strength of the law wherever you go is not the same with a policy of one institution.
“Also, BVN is only applicable to those who have bank account, but NIN is for every citizen and legal residents in the country. BVN is our secondary database while NIN and the database is the primary one in the country that each and every institution should make reference to NIMC.
“On the board of NIMC, the CBN governor is a member, DG DSS is a member, Chairman of FIRS is a member, INEC Chairman, Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), National Population Commission and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“They are all members of the board and this is to show you that it is primary database that every institution in the country should make reference to, when it comes to data protection regulations, we are in the forefront in Africa today.
“The level of security in all our database is 99.9 per cent. There is no database that is 100 percent secured. And the highest you can go, I think we are there.
“That is why we came up with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation that we always enforce and this is applicable to the database at our disposal, we take care of it and make sure that the security of it is excellent and we don’t allow anybody to compromise the content because it is a trust from our citizens given to us.”