The strategy to curtail and manage COVID19 hinge on a nation’s ability to command citizen’s compliance with measures including those prescribed by its public health authorities. This is the opportunity that the existing National Identity Card Management platform offers. Let’s seize the time now and deepen the database by emergency citizens registrations .

You will only be grabling in the dark and end up with a handful of individuals with meaningless identities without legacy platform.You need the identity of every one of your citizens on such a platform for verification and accountability. It’s the world we live in -Data. Am sure we all know BIG Data and its relevance today.

Without integtated national database, we are none-starters especially with this kind of global challenge. We stand the risk of politicising it in the absence of verifiable records and this is dangerous. You will remain ineffective and inefficient in what ever action you take. I am not saying anything new. We all know this , even the Nigerian state know. This is what informed the establishment of the scheme but it has been neglected. It is there at the back end of all strategies and measures deployed to manage national action plans including COVID19by other nations. Ask China. Theirs has even been updated to facial records. We can even do this.

This is the time for the Nigerian National Identity Card scheme which has struggled for relevance over many years and government regimes. I manually registered the other day because it was a precondition to renew my international passport. I got a temporary card immediately. Though four months after, i still await the hard copy plus the immigration authorities told me it had yet to DROP (Whatever that means) . But it works !!! Many hold the card already but it’s base is not deep enough to support any meaningful government intervention.

This is the time to populate it, especially with citizens in the informal sector. As they are directed to stay at home or under the bridge , identify them so you can easily schedule delivery of palliative. This is my message. Ask them to register FIRST as a precondition to receive food or money. Ask IT experts on how best to register online efficiently. There must be temporary options to fingerprinting as some will argue it cant be done online. The window for online registration exists on the platform. I don’t know how it works or if it works though. Find a way to do it. I commend the efforts of all those involved in the curtailment of this pandemic. This is is my own contribution to your laudable effort to bring the pandemic under control. DEMAND FOR NATIONAL IDENTITY CARD NUMBER.

CONTROL is the key word Mr President. I am a Nigerian, some of your Lieutenants will tell you it wont work. Please don’t listen to them. It will work. Besides you need it for accountability. They can’t come back and tell you ” Your Excelkecy, we have distributed everything. Let them show you verifiable records. citizens identity. Registration will help you to verify.

Directives such as include social distancing, stay at home order, testing, isolation, quarantine and even hospitalization, can be best supervised by a handle on citizen identity. Consequent upon these measures is the need to create the enabling environment to ensure compliance. These are essential palliative measures, the form of which may differ depending on a country’s particular circumstances.

In Nigeria, the measures have included food or grains and cash support, distribution of masks etc. I don’t think this has been sufficiently impactful. I know we have some existing cash schemes like trader money to leverage on but that’s hardly sufficient. How do you know who else to give in the informal sector when you have no identity?.or who you have already attended to, How do you account for what you have been allocated and disbursed. Any other form of Register would be suspect. The National Identity number stands tall in comparison. Government can easily measure its level of effectiveness in both action to curtail the virus and to provide palliative measures,

The citizenry is the target subject. Governments therefore need to know the identity of this citizen. Otherwise, you will be grappling in the dark. You will have no wholistic data to.measure the impact of your effort. Herein lies the critical need for National Identity Management scheme as a legacy platform to all other data banks. Let get everyone to register now online plus registration kiosks can be set up everywhere just for fingerprinting on carefully scheduled dates. We all attend visa interviews. They are never crowded. The trick is appointment scheduling. We cannot afford not to do this in this age of big data. This is 2020 for God sake .

So far all stakeholders have done well. The Nigerian government at both National and state levels have called for citizens lockdown, citizens are struggling to comply, Test facilities have been acquired, hospitals facilities established, palliative measures announced etc but given the growing public unrest and complaints, it does not need a scientist to tell you that this just ain’t making sufficient impact. As noted, this is not out of the will nor the capacity (so far) to curtail or position to curtail the pandemic, but the absence of a tool for control and impact measurement/ management is obstructing our view. Identify Nigerians.

As noted earlier, we are lucky to have in existence a robust National Identity database. Its largely empty though. Let’s populate it as a tool to position the country for the challenges of COVID19. Mind you, it is not a sufficient condition to successfully curtail the pandemic. Otherwise, most nations that have it would have by now be smiling. BUT it is a necessity and critical requirement. Ask China as well as some European countries presently gradually unlocking.

The United states for instance is presently able to pay its citizenry and provide other palliative measures via their National ID as integrated with the banks data and Tax authorities. I saw Nigeria members of the presidential committee on COVID19 struggling to hand-out raw cash and Food to a frenzied crowd the other day. It was horrifying and I feared for their safety.. I also see the health authorities struggling with contact tracing etc. We should examine technology options . Dont endanger peoples by door to door compulsory testing I heard. Some people are angry.

Members of the elaborate Presidential committee appointed recently must be scratching their heads on how to implement their mandate. I assure all you members that you wont achieve much outside a handle on the identity of Nigerians. At the end you will be accused of embezzling national resources and multinational donations. Please talk to the presidency about this. Ok , if you already thought of it, I am adding my voice. I beg.

As I mentioned earlier, luckily, the Federal government has already spent billions of Naira to build a very robust national identity card platform. I urge the president to pronounce that registration on this platform be declared as precondition to benefit from palliative and even treatment ( we need to be careful on those needing treatment. Those can be captured at point of treatment) measures. Nigerians and international support community will be more assured and convince of the level of your effort.

A sufficiently deep data bank is an effective handle to manage the economy on the whole. Admittedly, the benefits of national ID database extends far beyond relevance to COVID19, . It extends beyond to include several benefits including security. The tool can define a virtual border to complement our limited human sentry at our porous land border. I watched a member of the Presidential task force struggling to answer a question on how to manage challenges posed by our porous land border at a press conference recently.

The appropriate national agency should be quickly mobilized to make the platform ready for online registration . I believe all those desperate to receive parliatives, and they are many, will rush to register with the promise of food. But fulfil this promise..oh. It definitely will be counterproductive if those who attempt to register cannot due to access challenges. Deploy some of the funds from IMF or WHO for this purpose. The IT experts know what to do.

I doubt that there will be any other better opportunity to get citizens in the informal sector to register their identity than this moment, the citizens in the formal sector can easily be compelled to do so through other means including their bank accounts, patronage of a long list of government service points etc.

A robust citizen identification database will be a game changer in the effective distribution of palliative measures and therefore a more effective lockdown order. The citizenry will be quite happy to stay indoors if you can create the right ‘prison conditions and resources’ . After all we all dread COVID19 19. We hear and see how its devastating our darling America and Europe. Make it happen now Mr President. This is not a letter..oh.

Luqman Mamudu
Transtech Industrial Consulting Ltd