President Goodluck Jonathan has formally launched a national electronic identity card, which all Nigerians will have to have by 2019 if they want to vote. He received the first biometric card, which can also be used to make electronic payments. MasterCard is providing the prepaid payment element and it hopes millions of Nigerians without bank accounts will now gain access to financial services.
An attempt to introduce national ID cards in Nigeria 10 years ago failed. Analysts blame corruption for its failure, and say the same problems may stymie the new e-ID scheme.
“The card is not only a means of certifying your identity, but also a personal database repository and payment card, all in your pocket,” President Jonathan said at the launch in the capital, Abuja. 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,” he said.
The new cards show a person’s photograph, name, age and unique ID number – and 10 fingerprints and an iris are scanned during enrollment. These details are intended to ensure that there are no duplicates on the system.