, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 28 – There was a stand-off between the Senate and the Interior Ministry on Thursday after Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi did not show up to answer queries on the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) registration process, better known as ‘Huduma Namba.
Interior Cabinet Administrative Secretary Patrick Ntutu who instead showed up stated that they needed more time to prepare a comprehensive appraisal.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula led other committee members in calling for the suspension of the exrcise as Kenyans are not assured of the safety of their personal data.
“We must get and undertaking from the CS that they suspend this exercise until we come to the bottom of all this and until we have a legislation to protect the privacy and personal data of Kenyans,” he said.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi added that programme is shrouded in mystery and should not have been done through a miscellaneous Amendment Act but through a substantive law.
“We have not yet enacted the data protection Act so today, Kenyans are extremely vulnerable if we allow this process to proceed,” he stated.
Following this, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja directed that the process be halted until Matiangi shows up to explain the process in its entirety.
“We will now demand as a house that the following be summoned to appear on March 11. Interior Cabinet Secretary, his ICT counterpart and the Attorney General. In that meeting now we shall also invite other interested parties on this matter,” he said.
“We are now determining that until then, that this process be suspended. If you are available tomorrow, then we will meet, and you will go on.”
Other issues the legislators want revealed include the name of contractor and the cost of the whole process.
According to Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri, from a medical standpoint revealing one’s bio data is not allowed.
“A law like this that came under the miscellaneous amendment bill is wrong. We are the representative of the people and we can’t explain the implications of the bio data. Any bio data be it finance data needs to be protected through a substantive law so that every Kenyan understands what we are getting into,” he said.
The Ministry began on an aggressive four-week civic education program, where Kenyans will be educated on the benefits of the system, where more than 40,000 were registered during the pilot program.
According to Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, the Ministry will use the feedback from the process, to address the issues affecting Kenyans, before rolling it out to the rest of the Country from March 15.
The PS pointed out that the exercise will ensure that Kenyans get fast and efficient service delivery.
He stated that it will also help the government in its Big Four Agenda.
For one to be registered, the government will require an identification document which could either be a birth certificate, National Identity Card, driving license or the Kenya Revenue Authority Personal Identification Number.
A person registering will be required to provide a digital picture, give his name, gender, date of birth, age, citizenship, information about parents or guardians, place of birth, phone number, email address, physical and permanent residence and marital status.
The project involves the registration of all Kenyans and foreigners in the country by having their data, fingerprints and facial features captured to be stored in a central data base.
Among the benefits of having a ‘Huduma Namba’ is easy access to government services, coordinated registration of people and allocation of public resources.
It will also address duplication in registration and reduce operational costs, detect and prevent fraud, impersonation or any other crime.
Once registered, a person will be given a unique number that one will be required to use while accessing government services.