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EDITORIAL: Now that the NIN verification service portal is back!

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

After several days of downtime, the National Identity Management Commission on Saturday announced that the national identification number verification service portal has been fully restored. Although a respite to many Nigerians, such national humiliation must be averted at all costs.

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Under whatever guise, routine maintenance, upgrade or general repair, the debacle of the last couple of weeks could have been easily avoided. Nigeria, the supposed giants of Africa and the continent’s IT hub shouldn’t be subjected to such glitch.

It is on record that Nigeria has the highest number of tech hubs (85) followed by South Africa, which boasts of 80 hubs. The West African nation is ranked as the third most technologically advanced country on the continent behind South Africa and Egypt.

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Yet, thousands of telecommunication subscribers nationwide, who wanted to retrieve their lost Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards or acquire new lines were left stranded. What this meant was that the data of millions of Nigerians were in danger.

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Galaxy Backbone Limited, a Federal Government agency that provides Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services claimed it was “maintenance”. Some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), who are customers to Galaxy faced the same challenge.

They included Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Force and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC). Over 95 per cent of government agencies and establishments operate under the Galaxy Backbone shared service platform.

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The major technical glitch forced down multiple government websites for weeks, halting the services and information provided by the platforms. At least, six websites, including those of the presidential office and the NIMC, were affected. All affected sites had an error message that said: “This site can’t be reached.”

Other affected sites were those of the Budget Office of the Federation, Open Treasury, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), and the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).

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The Internet wayback machine, which archives web pages, showed that the budget office website was last active on January 29. The police website and the State House site were last accessible on February 1, while the websites of the OSGF and the NCAA last functioned on January 20 and January 27 respectively.

However, NIMC’s head of corporate communications, Kayode Adegoke, confirmed the service return. He said, “The National Identity Management Commission is pleased to announce that the National Identification Number Verification Service portal, which went down a few days ago due to maintenance by one of the Commission’s network service providers of its infrastructure, has been fully restored.

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“Consequently, customers and service providers can now take full advantage of the two verification platforms – Tokenization and NVS – which are both effective for verification and authentication of the National Identification Number.

“NIMC extends its profound gratitude to the general public and partners for their support during the NVS downtime and use of the tokenisation platform.

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“The commission will continue to come up with innovative identity management solutions to enhance its capacity to deliver on its mandate.”

No part of the statement did Adegoke apologise to Nigerians for this maintenance that may have led to the loss of many jobs, opportunities and businesses. Gratitude to citizens isn’t enough.

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NIMC must put modalities in place to avoid future occurrences. It is shameful that the country’s database was inaccessible for days. This simply means that our information is not even safe and can be compromised at any time.

NIMC, Galaxy Backbone and the entire government tech agencies must rise to the occasion.

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