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By Walter Duru, Ph.D

It was Albert Einstein that once said that “setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” That sentiment expressed by Einstein is the primary essence behind the theory of transformational leadership, which requires passion, charisma, and the ability to motivate others. Transformational leaders are usually very authentic, emotionally intelligent, great listeners, results-focused, visionary, and self-aware.

RELATED: NIMC: Aziz out as Coker-Odusote becomes acting Director-General/CEO

In just 100 days at the helm of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote has ushered in a new era of transformational leadership, leaving an indelible mark on the organization. Her eventual confirmation as substantive Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Commission did not come to many as a surprise.

She did not waste time to hit the ground running and showed commitment to advancing the NIMC’s mission and mandate.

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Coker-Odusote has taken steps to streamline National Identity Number (NIN) registration processes, while addressing the long-standing challenges associated with identity registration in Nigeria. This, she is handling through strategic restructuring and the integration of advanced technologies with a view to significantly reduce waiting time and enhance the overall efficiency of the system.

Today, date of birth and other kinds of modifications at NIMC happen within 48 hours. The several years backlog of date of birth modifications she inherited are almost cleared, as she had given a one-month deadline for the same to relevant staff of the Commission.

Again, responses to issues and complaints, such as those whose National Identity Numbers did not hit the NIN Verification Portal are now resolved within 24 hours.

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Recognizing the paramount importance of data security in the digital age, the NIMC CEO has taken steps to enhance data security by introducing robust measures to fortify the protection of citizens’ sensitive information. This includes, but not limited to the adoption of cutting-edge encryption technologies and the establishment of a dedicated cybersecurity team.

Her interest in improving service delivery at NIMC cannot be overemphasized. She has concluded plans to ensure regular training and retraining for staff of the Commission, emphasizing customer-centric approaches, to ensure a more positive experience for citizens seeking identity services.

On partnerships, Coker-Odusote, leveraging her extensive network and expertise, has forged strategic partnerships with governmental agencies, private organizations, and international bodies. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management.

Understanding the pivotal role of technology in modernizing identity management, Engr. Coker-Odusote has spearheaded the integration of biometric advancements and artificial intelligence into the registration and verification processes.

This not only improves accuracy, user experience and ease of enrolment, but also positions NIMC at the forefront of technological innovation in identity management. A typical example is the NIMC Contactless Biometric Solution, which delivers a best-in-class fingerprint and facial capture image output quality, powered by Artificial Intelligence. The new solution was unveiled by the commission at the 2023 Identity Day, held in Abuja on September 16, 2023.

In addition, Engr. Coker-Odusote tackled the existing backlog of unprocessed identity requests head-on. Through a combination of strategic staff deployment and redeployment, process optimization, and digitization initiatives, she has made significant strides in clearing the backlog, demonstrating her commitment to prompt and efficient service delivery.

Recognizing the crucial role played by the NIMC staff in achieving organizational goals, the CEO has developed for implementation, a robust welfare programme aimed at boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment. This includes, but not limited to training opportunities, health benefits, and performance recognition initiatives.

Furthermore, in consultation with in-house experts, elaborate public awareness campaigns are being planned, to ensure that citizens are well-informed about the importance and benefits of identity registration. These campaigns are expected to not only educate the public, but also serve to demystify the registration process, encouraging greater participation.

The NIMC DG has concluded plans to take the ecosystem enrolment forward by taking steps to deepen collaboration with ecosystem implementing partners, supporting to ensure the success and optimal performance of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project, a Nigerian Project jointly funded by The World Bank, The European Investment Bank, and the French Development Agency.

Engr. Coker-Odusote’s strategic vision, commitment to efficiency, and emphasis on technological innovation positions NIMC for a future where identity management is not only secure but also seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of citizens.

On anti-corruption, the NIMC DG has left no one in doubt on her determination to sanitize the system, entrench a culture of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption. Apart from putting systems and structures in place to discourage graft, she is directly involved in ensuring that the cankerworm has no place in the commission.

Just recently, in what one may describe as a sting operation, she paid an unscheduled visit to the Federal Capital Territory office of the commission, where she is reported to have arrested some staff for allegedly extorting money from Nigerians, even as she has maintained that enrolment was free.

Her devotion to supporting the policy direction of the present administration by strengthening the issuance of the NIN for access to service is not in doubt.

Speaking on Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office as NIMC CEO, Project Coordinator, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Musa Odole Solomon described her as a vibrant, results-focused leader, determined to make a difference in the Commission.

“She has taken steps to build bridges of collaboration between NIMC and partners within the country’s identity ecosystem. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management in Nigeria.”

“The collaboration is also focused on enhancing handshake with institutions involved in the country’s identity ecosystem, with a view to deepening integration with the country’s Identity Management System.”

“In 100 days, she has taken the lead in working with the Nigeria Digital ID4D Project to speed up project implementation process, especially, processes geared towards the extension of NIN enrolment to hard-to-reach areas, women, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups, thereby fostering inclusion and access to social services.”

“She has introduced some innovations that I consider very progressive, and things are moving very well. The Nigeria Digital ID4D Project is happy to work with her, as she has shown that she has all it takes to assist us succeed.”

Responding to a question on his impression about the NIMC DG’s leadership style and the future of the relationship between NIMC and his organisation, Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra stressed that the relationship between NIMC and NPC has become more robust under Coker-Odusote’s leadership as NIMC CEO.

“I want to say that the National Population Commission has a long and robust collaborative partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in our efforts to harmonize and integrate biometric databases for planning and development of our country.”

“However, this partnership has become more dynamic and robust with the assumption into office of Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote as the Director General of NIMC. She has shown an unparalleled commitment and passion in working with the Commission, not only in registration of births and deaths, but also the upcoming population census. She comes across as a thoroughbred professional and innovator who will give Africa’s greatest nation a deserved identity profile for national unity, security, and development. I am more confident in the future of the Identity Management Commission under her.”

Responding to a question on the new grounds covered at the NIMC ICT, Director, IT/Identity Database of the Commission, Chuks Onyepunuka has this to say:

“Our DG is pragmatic, proactive, result-oriented and visionist. Her achievements in ICT in NIMC in the last 100 days include, but not limited to: “launching of self-modification and enrolments services to ease and simplify the processes for enrolment services; driving the clearing of about 3 million backlog of enrolment records awaiting manual adjudication within 3 weeks; decentralization of operations with objectives of ensuring that we are closer to the enrolees and adequate coverage in the nooks and crannies of the country.”

“Others are improvement in the process of engaging and revalidating our Frontend Enrolment Partners (FEPs); improvement in our ICT policies, processes and procedures; resolution of 95% challenges/issues affecting our window enrolment software (Res-Web) and commenced the integration and harmonization with National Population Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).”

Adding her voice, NIMC’s Director, Business Development and Commercial Services, Mrs. Carolyn Folami described the DG as a thoroughbred professional, committed to resetting the Commission for the good of the nation.

“It has been only 100 days, but it seems she has been here far longer, as within this period, we have achieved a couple of goals towards resetting the NIMC agenda and resettling the NIMC staff for productivity.”

“Starting with the planning and commencement of training of all staff, to the commitment to all Front-End Partners (FEP) to revalidate the business model for fair play and payment. She is very keen on stakeholder engagement and has secured the buy- in of our harmonisation partners for effectiveness. She is professional, thorough, dedicated, and above all, kind to all.

Adding his voice, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Project Implementation Unit, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Dr. Emmanuel Akogun argued that Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office were characterised by “dynamic, focused and results – oriented leadership,” adding that there is steady progress in NIN enrolment, with “103,500,000 Nigerians and other legal residents captured in the NIMC Database.”

There is therefore no gainsaying the fact that Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days as CEO of the NIMC have been marked by a series of commendable achievements.

At this point, one can confidently say that with Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote as Chief Executive Officer, NIMC is in safe hands.

Her recent confirmation as substantive Director General/CEO of the Commission is clearly an act of patriotism by the Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

However, as she commences a full tenure of office, following her recent confirmation, one expects that the standard is not lowered.

As she marks 100 days in office this week, the most challenging part of Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s journey as Chief Executive Officer of the NIMC is the need to sustain the successes recorded, remain focused, deepen stakeholder engagement and public enlightenment, check corruption, strengthen systems and structures, be fair to all, while supporting the policy direction of the present administration.

Deliberate steps must be taken to ensure the sustenance of the war against extortion at NIMC.

Again, a deliberate plan should be in place to ensure a more robust stakeholder collaboration, particularly with those involved in the country’s identity ecosystem.

Elaborate, sustained communication and public enlightenment activities are required, taking advantage of the conventional and unconventional channels of communication to inform, educate and mobilize the citizens on the need for all to register for the NIN. This requires a deliberate strategy and strategic implementation.

Finally, a deliberate inclusion strategy must be in place and vigorously implemented to ensure that no one is left behind.

As the DG continues to lead with passion and purpose, NIMC is poised for even greater accomplishments under her guidance.

Indeed, NIMC is in safe hands!

Dr. Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication and Multimedia Design) is a Communication/Public Relations Strategist, Researcher and Consultant. He could be reached on [email protected]

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