The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved the recognition and observance of September 16 of every year as the National Identity Day.
This is a practical move to create awareness among Nigerians on the importance of identification as a modern tool for national development and social cohesion.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha conveyed government’s approval in a letter dated August 29, 2019 and addressed to the Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr Aliyu Aziz.
In the letter signed on the SGF’s behalf by David K. Gende, the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss conveyed government’s approval to the NIMC chief executive officer that Nigeria should join the Coalition for International Identity Day, in response to the latter’s earlier request.
The letter reads in part: “I am to inform you that the SGF has considered and approved (i) that Nigeria should join the Coalition for International Identity Day, which will recognise the role of identity management for proper planning, governance and efficient service delivery;
“(ii) that the National Identity Management Commission should proceed with educational and awareness campaigns on the proposed identity day to other public and private sector stakeholders, including institutions in the movement.”
By that approval, therefore, Nigeria becomes the first country in the world to formally adopt September 16, otherwise called 16.9, as Identity Day (ID-Day).
Aziz said that already, NIMC has lined up a number of activities to formally launch Nigeria’s Identity Day on September 16, 2019, year being the debut edition. The programme will take place in Abuja, with stakeholders from public and private sectors attending.
The ID-Day campaign was initiated at the fourth annual meeting of the ID4Africa Movement on April 24, 2018 in Abuja, as a global coalition calling for the recognition by the United Nations of September 16 as International Identity Day as identity plays an increasingly important role worldwide in developed as well as developing economies.
The NIMC director general said “The purpose of International Identity Day is to raise awareness about the important role identity plays in empowering individuals to exercise their rights and responsibilities fairly and equitably in a modern society.”
“And we are delighted that Nigeria has become the first country in the world to declare September 16 as ID Day, thereby leading the rest of the world in this important direction.”
He explained that the choice of the date September 16, was chosen in commemoration of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.9, which calls for legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030.
“Many important issues on the international development and human rights agenda have an observance day. For example, 10 December is Human Rights Day, while of June 20, is Refugee Day. Now is the time for identity to have a day of observance,” he stated.
The United Nations states that “observances contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues.
“They provide a useful means for the promotion of international and national action and stimulate interest in United Nations activities and programmes,” he stated.