Chams Plc, one of Nigeria’s leading companies has evolved over the last 3 decades from computer and hardware maintenance to the provision of enterprise technology solutions in identity management and identity transaction systems for the public and private sectors.
Recently, it facilitated the identification process for the government of the state of Osun. The initiative called ‘Kaadi Omoluabi’ has received several accolades and commendations from the Osun citizenry and other stakeholders within and outside the state.
Mr. OLUFEMI WILLIAMS, the Group Managing Director of the firm, in an interview with The Nation reporter MOSES EMORINKEN sheds some light on the relevance and ubiquitous benefits and solutions of data capturing to the social, economic and political problems bedeviling the country.
What is the relevance of the Omoluabi Identity Card to the Osun citizenry?
As His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the executive governor of the state of Osun mentioned at the launch of the initiative on Tuesday, the Identity Card Initiative is about knowing the people that he governs. There is no way the government can plan or manage the affairs of the state, especially with respect to what the people want without detailed understanding of biometric statistics.
It also helps the government measure the effectiveness of the services it delivers to the people.
It creates a platform for any member of the state to conveniently transact with the government and vice-versa.
For instance, if the government wants to build new schools or construct new roads, it can easily make objective and informed decisions about which part(s) of the state needs these infrastructural facilities depending on the population of the people, where economic transactions are preponderant, etc.
It allows government institutions to have interconnected database. It cuts out the duplicity in registering and capturing biometric data of its citizenry. This initiative provides a unique number that can be used for such purposes.
We did it for students and the impact was major. Immediately, the cost of managing, sponsoring and promoting affairs around the educational sector was optimized. Before then, there were haphazard approaches because of the paucity in statistics.
How long did it take CHAMS to come up with this solution?
This is the forte and core competence area of CHAMS. We have participated in similar projects in the past. We have been on this project for four years. The reason was because the government had more pressing project at the time before very recently it decided to take up the Identity Card Initiative.
This novel innovation in identity capturing is not only opened to indigenes of the state but also to residents within the state.
What is the level of response of the people of the state to this initiative?
The responses have been very encouraging from members of private organisations and the civil society. They believe that the initiative is very timely and custom-made for the people and government of the state.
Does CHAMS have plans to diversify into other real sectors?
Our core focus lies in delivering intelligent business solutions. However, there are two major industries we intend to dominate in the next few months, they are – Agriculture and Health acre. For now, that is all we can reveal.
Is it possible to have a central database for the biometric data of Nigeria to avoid proliferation and duplicity?
This can be answered in two ways – technical and political. I have an authoritative response to the former but with little or no political explanations for the later.
Technically, one of the projects awarded for data capturing in 1976 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo would have solved it. However, the problems of awarding and re-awarding contracts have brought us to where we are today.
The only solution is what the Federal Government is trying to do – which is harmonization. There is a need to harmonize these databases together. The process will be challenging but not impossible to do. At the moment there exists huge repository of data at the Federal Road Safety Commission ( FRSC ), sim card registration centres, Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ), Nigerian Communications Commission ( NCC ), states etc. There are solutions and technologies that can harmonize data effectively.
What exactly is CHAMS as an organisation doing differently?
Every business goes through series of transformations. For CHAMS, we have evolved overtime according to the overwhelming changes in the needs, expectations and taste of consumers. We started as a Computer Hardware and Maintenance Company, to Networking and then to Smart Card Technology. It was the Smart Card Technology that led to the formation of value card; which was the first successful payment card in Nigeria.
After a while, we moved into Identity Management because we realised that the problem(s) of this country will not disappear until we solve the processes of identity. Identity is like the Certificate of Ownership (C of O) for land. The (C of O) is an ordinary document, however, because we believe that the (C of O) represents a land somewhere, we can conveniently do a transaction with it. The same things can be done with the identity number to represent a person.
The next phase for us is to translate the business from just Identity Management into intelligent businesses that can be built on identity. We have the human capital to deliver. We have a bunch of experienced, versatile and energetic executives to drive the processes.
What should we expect from charms in the next 5 years?
We would have dominated two industries and be listed on the London Stock Exchange.