The Nigerian government says it has begun phasing out the bank verification numbers (BVN) introduced by the Central Bank in 2014.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said on Monday that a proposal for replacing the BVN with the national identification number (NIN) was forwarded to the National Economic Sustainability Committee.
Mr Pantami explained that the BVN, a security measure implemented by the CBN to reduce illegal banking transactions in the country, was merely a bank policy without legal roots.
“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 Cable quoted the minister to have said during an inspection of the ongoing NIN enrolment exercise in Abuja.
“I made a presentation to National Economic Sustainability Committee, and I drew the attention of CBN governor that we need to replace BVN with NIN because the BVN is a bank policy while NIN is a law,” he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime had directed citizens to enrol for the NIN and link the number to their SIM cards or risk deactivation of their telephone lines.
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Act 2007 mandates all Nigerians and permanent residents to have the NIN but is silent on linking the NIN to SIM registration data.
Citing the duplication of data, Nigerians queried why the CBN’s biometric identification system which carries nearly as much information as the NIN, was not used for the SIM integration.
“So this (the NIN) is the primary identification of all, and all other databases are supposed to utilise this and not for NIN to utilise the BVN because it is the primary one,” Pantami insisted.