By Princewill Kori
After many false starts, the current registration and identification of eligible Nigerians being undertaken by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in the last couple of years is seen as potentially one of the most successful government projects in a clime that is replete with inefficient policies and programmes.
Since it is still an ongoing project with its hiccups and challenges, Nigerians fervently hope the process will be administered by capable hands who will translate the political will of government and enthusiasm of Nigerians into a viable, authentic, secure, durable and efficient identity database of citizens, comparable to the best in the world.
This is why President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Aliyu Aziz Abubakar as the new Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has elicited positive excitement among staff, industry watchers and those familiar with the workings of that sector. The new helmsman at NIMC is a seasoned multidisciplinary Chartered Engineer with over 30 years post-qualification experience, with a dynamic personality and diverse skills which span Information Technology, Management and Administration. In fact, he recently retired from NIMC as Director of Information Technology/National Identity Database Department. So, Abubakar is no stranger to the organisation or the responsibility he has just been assigned to take charge of. Besides, he had previously worked with some of the most progressive government institutions in Nigeria during their transformative years.
Engr. Aziz is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he received a B.Eng in Civil Engineering and an M.Sc in Structural Engineering with specialty in Computer Aided Design. He started his working career as a Graduate Assistant in the Civil Engineering Department of the University. He went on to become a Principal Partner of Integrated Engineering Associates (IEA), where he designed and supervised several prominent buildings and bridges in Kaduna and Abuja, including the National Universities Commission (NUC) Secretariat; Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Headquarters; African Petroleum (AP) Plaza; Nigeria Agricultural and Cooperative Bank (NACB) Office block and many others. He has served as consultant for numerous public and private sector organizations regarding Engineering and Information Technology issues, including Afri Projects Consortium, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and the Nigeria Police.
Aziz has developed several software applications for Finite Element structural analysis and design of reinforced concrete pad footings, hollow clay pots, wind analysis of multi-storey buildings, analysis and design of two-way solid slabs, and design of sections. He is also proficient in countless high level programming languages, including BASIC, FORTRAN, APL, C++, LISP, TCL/TK, PYTHON, and currently engaged with JAVA on the client side and PHP on the server side.
He was Information Technology Adviser to the Minister, Federal Capital Territory Administration, where he pioneered the implementation of the first e-government solution that won a Microsoft award in 2006. He was also the sub-committee Technical Chairman on the Presidential Committee on Harmonization of ICT that resulted in the formation of Galaxy Backbone. He was Deputy Director, Information Technology with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that successfully restructured and executed the Nigerian Government’s privatization policy. He served as a Director in the Secretariat of the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Implementation of Government Decisions on Consumer Credit System, National Outsourcing Initiative and Harmonization of Identification Schemes in Nigeria.
Prior to joining government, he was a Principal Consultant, Management Information System (MIS) Department of Afri-Projects Consortium (APC), an indigenous management consulting firm that won one of the largest consultancy projects in Nigeria. A tutor and specialist in engineering, Abubakar has been teaching engineering students onlineviawww.aliyuaziz.com in the Engineering Faculty of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and ACEN Training School, Abuja.
The new NIMC boss is a member of several professional bodies, including Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE), of which he is the current Vice President. He is widely travelled and an alumnus of the famous Harvard, Stanford, IMD and Lagos Business Schools. He is also a member of the Computer Association of Nigeria (COAN), and the Internet Society (ISOC).
Born on 17th of May, 1962, the new NIMC boss hails from Yola, Adamawa State, and is awaiting to be awarded a Ph.D by the Federal University of Technology, Akure. He is married with children and his hobbies include reading, travelling and astronomy.
With such rich and vast pedigree in areas that span ICT and database management, Aziz is expected to bring his knowledge and experience to bear on Nigeria’s aspiration for an efficient citizens identity database. Also, with President Buhari’s marching orders to NIMC to harmonise the various databases domiciled in different government organisations to make for more efficient use by government and citizens, his appointment of Aziz as Director-General of NIMC is certainly epitomises putting a round peg in a round hole.