The Joint Admission and
Matriculation Board (JAMB) has introduced a new innovation for the United
Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in the form of Biometric Verification
Mode (BVM). We applaud Prof. Ishaq Oloyede and his team in their attempt to
eliminate identity fraud in the examination. Candidates would now be verified via
their biometric detail before they sit for the examination.

The BVM is a system where a
candidate's biometrics is captured and used by JAMB to authenticate the identity
of its candidates. The equipment used to collect this data is acquired with
Nigerian taxpayers' money. Some would argue that it's for a good cause.  I agree that the intention is good, identity
fraud is a serious problem faced in the United Tertiary Matriculation
Examination.

Let's think about the current situation in Nigeria. The independent Electoral Commission collects biometrics data from eligible voters to register for voter's card (Nigeria buys biometric equipment for INEC with our taxpayers' money). The Immigration office collects biometrics data when you apply for an international passport (so Nigeria buys another set of biometric machines for the Nigerian Immigration Service with our taxpayers' money). The Federal Road safety Commission License office collects biometrics data when you apply for a driver's license (Nigeria buys another set of biometrics equipment for this department). The National Identity Management Council (NIMC) collects biometrics data when they register citizens for the National identity card (Nigeria buys another set of biometric equipment). Let's not forget our very famous Bank Verification Number (here the biometric equipment is provided by the bank with the Nigerian financial authorities having access to the data captured).

Here is another interesting
snippet of information, The National Identity Management Council acknowledges
the validity of the BVN number. A prerequisite for application for a National
Identity card is the BVN number of the individual and/or a valid Identity card.
This is only applicable when obtaining a national identity card. Therefore an
individual can have a different name and/or date of birth on his/her national
identity card, voter's card, driver’s license or international passport. One
can only imagine the ruckus this would create if the federal government decides
to merge the information collected from all these sites.

I wonder why it is not possible for Nigeria to
have a single database where every Nigerians information is captured and also
have a single identity card. If one is of age to vote, one can simply go to the
closest polling unit, use their fingerprint as their identity, cast their vote
and leave (no need for a voter's card). Anyone who is of age to drive and has
fulfilled the requirement permitting them to drive could just get a driving
permit without having their data recaptured.

One begins to wonder why we have
to provide this equipment for four different governmental organisation. Why
can't we import the information previously captured on the Bank Verification
Platform, which could be used by these various organisation? One can only
imagine how much money would be saved if these machines were not purchased for
all these organisations and the benefit to the country If this money was
reallocated to the health sector or the educational sector.

Nigerian government needs to
improve on their duty as custodians of the taxpayers' money and be prudently
accountable to the taxpayer.

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