LIBERIA NEWS: NIR ANNOUNCES DEPLOYMENT OF MOBILE TEAMS

…Following President Boakai’s Public Declaration of Support

Monrovia-Feb 8-The National Identification Registry (NIR), the agency of government charged with the responsibility of producing national identification cards in Liberia, has announced the deployment of its mobile teams across different line ministries and agencies.

The intent is to enroll all employees of government and renew expired ID cards. Authorities of the NIR took the decision just less than a week after President Joseph Nyumah Boakai made a public declaration, committing his government’s support to the registry.

“One of the vexing problems we noted during our past elections is voter registration and the associated logistical problems, which tend to frustrate and anger voters and political parties. My Government will strengthen the National Identification Registry (NIR) to build the needed capacity to be able to capture the comprehensive biometric data needed to feed all agencies including the National Elections Commission”, the Liberian leader said during his first State of the Nation Address on grounds of the Capitol on January 29, 2024.

The executive director of the NIR, Mr. Andrew Peters, in a statement issued during the weekend, expressed excitement over the policy statement made by President Boakai, promising to execute his vision.

“The National Identification Registry receives with huge excitement this policy statement from the Liberian leader, and stands ready to drive his vision for the successful enrollment of citizens into the National Biometric Identification System, which is critical to the enhancement of democracy and economic development”. .

Mr. Peters said unique identification is key for running modern governments and companies while pointing out that the pronouncement made by the president has invigorated his team to work harder.

“Liberia has taken a long time to join the global unique identification community, but we believe that the country has arrived at this stage, and we are here to stay, more especially so with support coming from the UP-led government.

Mr. Peters continued: “The NIR announces with immediate effect the full deployment of NIR mobile enrollment at every ministry and agency of the government for the enrollment of all employees and renewal of expired ID cards across the country”.

According to the NIR boss, the National Biometric Identification System is on an irreversible course, adding, “we can assure you that the NIR is ready to work to achieve the government’s agenda”.

Even though challenged, the NIR has recorded success in different spheres of its operations. The NIR up to date has enrolled 700,000 (13.46% of 5.2 million) citizens and residents into the NBIS, with twenty-seven (27) permanent Enrolment Centers across the country – including 12 centers in Montserrado alone. There are several mobile enrolment teams, some of which are stationed at various GoL ministries and agencies.

The agency has collaborated with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to remove ghost names from the government payroll, and Peters remains upbeat that a similar exercise will be taken to other government functionaries.

“In 2018, the NIR in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the Civil Service Agency (CSA) conducted a GoL payroll Cleanup Campaign using the unique identification attributes of the Registry to remove ‘ghost’ names from the GoL payroll. Out of a total of about 80,000 names on the payroll, only 60,000 persons showed up at the end of the exercise”.

Following the payroll cleanup the MFDP along with NIR developed an interface to continually audit the payroll as new employees got on the GoL payroll. This API was shared with the IAA and CSA as they all were the stakeholders in this project.

Additionally, the API also connects LRA, with new taxpayers wanting to have a TIN (tax identification number).

On September 16, 2023, the NIR launched the Enrolment at Birth, the project aimed at enrolling over 500,000 children (ages 0 to 5 years) nationwide (approximately 14% of the youthful population under 20 years – LISGIS census 2022) into the National Childbirth Enrolment System (NCES) being developed. Historically, since the launch of the National Biometric Identification System (NBIS) to provide unique legal identity for all citizens and residents, there has been an exclusion of this category of people (Children under age 0- 5 years) because enrolment into the NBIS begins at 6 years, the age at which the NBIS can capture fingerprints due to technological inability.

The National Identification Registry (NIR) came into existence, as a result of the People’s Redemption Council Government, headed by the late President, Samuel K. Doe, in a Presidential Degree NO. 65 issued by him, thus establishing the National Identification Card System.

The functions of the National ID Card System, however, were short-lived. The Government of Liberia, under the leadership of H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, realizing the importance of unique identity, through the National legislature, repealed the PRC Degree NO. 65, which established the National Identification Card System, and established in lieu thereof, the National Identification Registry (NIR). The Act was approved on August 1, 2011, and published by the Authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 8, 2011, making the NIR one of the integrity institutions in our governance system.

The general functions of the Registry are, to design, establish, maintain, administer, and implement the National Biometric Identification System (NBIS) of the Republic of Liberia.

Amongst many things, its mandate is: To design, produce, and issue biometric cards, each with a unique identifying number to be called a Social Security Number, to be the primary government-approved identity number (for registration of birth, death, passports, immigrant documents, bank accounts, driver License, social security benefits, and other identification documents)

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