Why does Nigeria not have a unified database?

by | Mar 3, 2015

After my biometric registration with my bank for the Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) exercise, it dawned on me that Nigeria’s banking sector was on the verge of having a unified database for commercial banks’ customers.

With the BVN, I have a unique identity to which every other bank accounts I operate are tied to. This means  I don’t have to register with every bank I operate an account with; what the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) might never achieve with the SIM Card registration process.

If you reside in Nigeria, you probably must have participated in not less than four data capturing processes in recent years, what with government agencies collecting the same set of data every time, including your biometrics.

Few years ago, The NCC mandated every GSM user to have their data and biometric captured for every lines they use – I registered five mobile lines, and each time I was asked the same set of questions. You can read my case study for the regulatory body of the telecom sector here.


Another stop is the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) which has one of its mandate to be ‘Establishment, operation and management of the National Identity Management System (NIMS).

Since NIMC is saddled with the responsibility of establishing and maintaining a national identity database, we might want to ask why every other government agency or departments needs to collect my data directly from me, rather than just plugging into NIMC database.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) collected my data in 2011 yet, everyone on my street still had to register again in December 2014.

Finally, the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRA) is presently capturing data of every Lagosian. Not forgetting the new National Driver’s License which also requires biometrics.

With the numerous databases being maintained by various government agencies in the country, it appears all these agencies don’t trust each other. Or could it just be to add figures to their yearly annual budget? As I often joke, can Jack Bauer make anything of any of the various databases?

And there doesn’t appear to be any verification exercise in place for any of the databases. I can easily give my residence to be house number 8 to MTN, 2 to Airtel, 16 to LASRA or maybe house number 3 on another street to NIMC, with none of the agencies making effort to verify my data.

You probably know some of the reasons why Nigeria does not have a unified database. Do share using the comment section below.

Image Credit: Aldous Voice


Yinka Awosanya
Yinka Awosanya

Mobile & African Tech Enthusiast │ Data Analyst │ Music

Are you in tech and you are looking at getting a foreign remote job or you want to move abroad? Fill this form and you will get the BEST resources to help you get that high paying remote job as well as japa easily! WAGMI!

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Abimbola Sojimi
Abimbola Sojimi
7 years ago

I’ve pondered over this question over the last couple of months. I don’t think it’s lack of trust. There is no coordinated identity management body. Even NIMC is just one of many bodies capturing biometrics. The banks at least have a grip by unifying. TELCOs should take a cue…..

Farida Adamu
Farida Adamu
Reply to  oluSunYAh
5 years ago

Exactly! I’m guilty of this. Not that guilty though lol, I was actually experimenting. I have 3 SIM cards with different credentials yet same thumbprint. All the registrations were successful. I have two temporary voter cards with different information. So many have multiple identities because nobody is verifying anything.

Recent News

TABS is tomorrow! 💃 💃

TABS is tomorrow! 💃 💃

On #TechpointDigest, we discuss Victory Farms’ $5m investment, Netflix for kids and people with disabilities, and TikTok’s plan to credit creators.

TikTok on a “Branded Mission”

TikTok on a “Branded Mission”

On #TechpointDigest, we discuss Autochek’s new acquisition, TikTok’s Branded Mission, Bamba’s $3.2 million seed, and Jumia’s report for Q1 2022.

[PODCAST] Tax evasion in Nigeria to get harder

[PODCAST] Tax evasion in Nigeria to get harder

Using data mining and machine learning, Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service plans to make it harder to evade taxes. Listen to today’s episode of #TechpointAfricaPodcast to learn how it plans to do that.

Subscribe to Techpoint Digest!

A daily 5-minute roundup of happenings in African and global tech, sent directly to your email inbox, between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m (WAT) every week day!

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Subscribe to Blockchain Explorer

Analysis oninnovation, regulations, and trends inthe blockchain sector, as it concerns Africa

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Subscribe to The Experts

A bi-weekly where tech career specialists take us on their journey from newbie to expert, and how they became successful in the industry.

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Subscribe to Founder's Table

A monthly series, where we catch up with founders in the startup ecosystem, learn about their failures, successes and a few tricks of the trade

Please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap