As the deadline for telephone subscribers to link their National Identification Number (NIN) with Subscriber Identity Modules (SIM) cards draws to a close, many Nigerians are still wondering whether they are going to lose their SIM numbers for failing to get their NIN linked with their SIM numbers.
The federal government had given two weeks directives for all SIMs without NIN to be blocked as the country continues to experience insecurity issues across the country. A phenomenon, the government believed is partly aided by the lack of strong identity management in the country.
Following public outcry, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) approved the extension of the deadline on the ongoing NIN- SIM integration by a period of 3 weeks- 30th December 2020 to the 19th January 2021 for subscribers with the National Identification Number (NIN), and 6 weeks- 30th December 2020 to the 19th February 2021 for subscribers without the NIN.
The approval according to NIMC head corporate communications Kayode Adegoke was conveyed after the review of all related activities by the Presidential Task Force on the integration of the National Identification Number (NIN) and Subscriber Information Module (SIM), chaired by the Minister, and had in attendance executive stakeholders in the sector including, the director-general National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Engr Aliyu A. Aziz, executive vice chairman Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof Umar G. Danbatta, DG National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA) Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, Chairman ALTON, CEOs of MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Glo, Smile, and 9Mobile.
“Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) and other stakeholders resolved to suspend all USSD and verification charges for the duration of the extension to enable all Nigerians and legal residents to integrate their SIM cards with the NIN without any financial obstacle.”
NIMC, therefore, assured members of the general public that adequate measures are being put in place to enable citizens and legal residents be enrolled and issued with the NIN.
The total active telephone subscribers in Nigeria stands at 207, 531, 589 million, out of which 154, 878, 203 million are subscribers to the internet.
One wonders how many of these figures will be affect on Tuesday, 19th January, 2021, if the government pulls through its threats of blocking unregistered SIMs with NIN.
Calls put through to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Engr Aliyu A. Aziz and the NIMC head corporate communications Kayode Adegoke to ascertain the level of compliance and if the existing deadline is sacrosanct could not be reached.
Blueprint reports that if the deadline is not extended, about half the telephony population may lose their SIM cards and several Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would be affected.
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