She is one of the first set of President Bola Tinubu’s political appointees, having being announced as Acting Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) on August 22.
Abisoye Coker-Odusote, an engineer, is one of the latest ‘products’ from the conveyor belt of talents that the President is known to regularly bring into national prominence.
She has now spent over four months in office including three in acting capacity before her confirmation as substantive head of the country’s data management agency in a move that was not exactly unexpected.
From her first few weeks in office, the UK-trained engineer showed that she was prepared to add value to a commission that is saddled with the responsibility of building and maintaining the national Identity data base.
NIMC has indeed not done badly since its establishment in 2007 but the new DG is bringing on board, a wealth of experience in ICT and identity database management systems to further raise the profile of the agency.
So not surprising, one of the initial messages she sent out was her readiness to ensure seamless enrollment of National Identification Number (NIN) and modification services across the nation as well as strengthen the integrity of the system she inherited.
She was emphatic that, on her watch, “NIMC will strengthen the operation and regulation of all matters related to national identity which encompasses services such as NIN enrolment and issuance, national e-ID card issuance, identity verification as well as data harmonisation and authentication.
Her position on an integrated identity system is that it will strengthen government’s fiscal management, promote good governance and transparency through inclusivity and social equality.
Armed with more than a decade-long background traversing information technology, finance and data management in the public and private sectors, Coker-Odusote had been unwavering in her bid to build on what her predecessors did at the agency.
One major highlight of her first one hundred days in office has been the clearing of over 2.5 million backlog of requests for modification of NINs.
This was done without fanfare but it was an unprecedented move that drew media attention with many wondering how this could have been done in such a short time.
From reading the riot act to individuals and groups who had been extorting potential enrollees to warning NIMC staff, Coker-Odusote had since her first day in office left no doubt that a new sheriff was in the commission.
So when she paid an unscheduled visit to the FCT centre, it was not unexpected that there would be some drama and indeed there was because some individuals were arrested for extorting innocent Nigerians that came for NIN enrollment.
There is however one step the DG took that may not have gone down well with some people.
Some weeks ago, she put a temporary hold on registration by Front End Partners (FEPs) with a view to ensuring that a revalidation exercise was carried out for the commission’s private sector partners in NIN enrollment and other services.
The agency is wrapping up the exercise which it is convinced will strengthen the partnership as well as the integrity of its data management system.
For now, Engineer Abisoye Coker-Odusote is proving to be a square peg in a square. And if her first few months in office including the period she headed the commission in acting capacity are anything to go by, then it would be safe to say that Nigeria is set to witness yet another Amazon in public office.
Dapo Okubanjo, a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja via [email protected]