"The moment we [Africans] lost our languages was also the moment we lost our bodies, our gold, diamonds, copper, coffee, tea." - Ngugi wa Thiong'o

The Proliferation of Biometrics = Nigeria’s Hypocrisy

Any Nigerian bank customer who didn’t submit his/her Bank Verification Number (BVN) by the end of tomorrow’s (30/October/2015) business hours may no longer be able to access his funds. This is no Halloween’s trick or treat since Nigerians and Africans in general don’t indulge in Halloween.

However, it is an order from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to all Nigerian banks and their customers. Every bank must obtain the biometrics of their customers, issue each customer with a number, which the CBN say will ‘give a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian Banking system.’

Curiously, when the customer opened the same bank account, he/she was properly identified.

In fact, banks in Nigeria demand from a prospective customer any of the following documents as a proof of identity: Nigerian National I.D Card, Nigerian Passport; Driving Licence, Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and so on. These are all biometric documents.

Hence, why would the CBN require more biometric data when banks already have copies of their customers’ biometric IDs in their possessions? Or is the CBN suggesting that these other bio IDs are not secure enough for the banking system, including the Nigerian passport?

If so, then, why should any immigration allow into their country, anybody travelling with a Nigerian passport - a passport that’s not trusted by a Nigerian bank?

The proliferation of biometrics in Nigeria is nothing but a sign of a country deceiving herself – Nigeria's hypocrisy.

If Nigeria is sincere with herself, it should strengthen the national ID card system by establishing a national database where every authorised institution can authenticate an individual's identity.

For instance, in South Africa, every citizen is mandated by law to apply for an ID card from the age of 16. A unique number is thereafter issued, which the individual will use to apply for a passport, driving license, voters card, bank accounts, etc.

This South African model can be replicated in Nigeria. But the implementation will be sabotaged by Hausa/Fulani (Northern) Nigerians, who have been claiming to be more populated than other parts of the country. If they allow it, their population myth will be busted.

And so, Nigerian banks and the CBN should be requesting for a customer’s NVN – Nigeria/National Verification Number instead of BVN – Bank Verification Number.

Finally, until Nigeria makes sincerity her watch word, the day will come when an institution will not request the citizens’ biometrics anymore, but their real blood in order to identify them.