Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, made this call at the commemoration of the 3rd National Identity Day in Abuja.
The theme of the Day is “Identity, a tool for sustainable digital economy and National security“.
He also commended efforts of all stakeholders as regards National Identification Number (NIN), adding it was highly commendable, particularly being able to capture millions within less than a year.
Buhari called on stakeholders in the private and public sector to join hands together before end of his tenure to achieve a complete database for the country
He reminded all stakeholders and citizens that NIN was key to the success of Nigeria as a country.
“As long as we fail to recognise the gaps then it is difficult to fix our challenges confronting the country.
“With the right database in place, it will guide government to plan and take critical decisions on education, health agriculture.
“Data also will guide government to come up with effective national policies with the issue women, children and unemployment,” Buhari said.
He commended the effort of NIMC for choosing the theme, saying NIN was a prerequisite for the success of the digital and national economy, as well as national security right.
Pantami said there was the need to use efficient ways to deploy national identity trust systems, not only to deliver government services in areas such as social welfare, taxes, voting, health administration, security, and education but also to build an indigenous digital economy.
He also said it would stimulate the private sector and make it thrive.
Pantami, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Bitrus Nabasu, said an efficient, secure, accessible, and reliable National Identity Infrastructure would empower Nigerians to exercise their rights and responsibilities fairly and equitably, thereby driving social inclusion.
He said the National Identity Day celebration was intended to raise awareness and sensitise the citizenry about the pivotal role of digital identification in Nigeria.
“Our enthusiasm to build a local digital economy, curb widespread economic and social exclusion is hinged on the necessity to assign every Nigerian and legal resident with a unique identity.
“The commission has achieved this through the scale up of Enrolment and Registration Centres (ERCs) across the country and in the diaspora.
“We have implemented novel policy initiatives that have led to tremendous increase in the registration of persons to over 63 million, counting on the National Identity Database (NIDB),” Pantami said.
He said there was need to continue to reinforce every Nigerian to have a digital identity, irrespective of social class or economic status, saying that the need to sustain the momentum by creating awareness and sensitising the public.
The Acting Chairman, NIMC Governing Board, Bello Gwandu said the gathering brought together key stakeholders and drew attention to the multidimensional importance of identification in the building of an inclusive society.
“This is the third edition of the event since Mr. President approved the designation of Sept. 16th of every year as the National Identity Day, in line with his conviction of the power of digital identification as a pivotal tool in changing the socio-economic narrative of Nigeria.
“It further proves his readiness to provide necessary support to relevant agencies of government with a view to harnessing all identity infrastructure in the country toward bolstering our domestic digital economy.
“Commemorative ceremonies such as this, offer ample opportunity to explicitly reinforce the fact that no country can thrive in this 21st century without a functional and reliable system of national identification,” Gwandu said.
He said without NIN, government would not be able to effectively deliver public services to citizens and private institutions would struggle to serve their customers seamlessly.
Speaking on the progress of the commission, the Director- General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, said the commission had learnt lessons, forged new alliances and partnerships, transformed, and empowered to institutionalise a sustainable foundational ID for Nigeria.
“Whilst we acknowledge there is more work to be done and many hurdles to cross, I want to state that the commission is on the right path to fulfilling its mandate of providing assured identity to all.
“I want to appeal for the support of every stakeholder in the actualisation of this huge and important ID mandate that has the potential to change the trajectory of our nation.
The occasion attracted the presidential launch of the new improved NIN slip, the upgraded NIMC Mobile app, and the Android software.
All these additions are geared to help NIMC serve the public effectively and efficiently.