Stakeholders demand six-month NIN-SIM linkage deadline extension


Temiloluwa O’Peters

Stakeholders in the telecom space have called for further extension of the National Identification Number and Subscriber Identity Module integration exercise by six months.

They noted that the eight weeks extension given by government on Tuesday would not be enough going by the number of Nigerians yet to be registered, as well as other challenges with the NIN enrolment.

Reacting to the extension, the National Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, stated that the April 6 deadline would not be sufficient to register every single NIN.

Teniola observed that the SIM registration database at present could not represent all Nigerians, saying it would represent at most 65 to 95 million Nigerians.

He said, “If you take away our population estimated at 200 million away from that figure, or a population of 150 million that the World Bank has said they’ll fund to have NIN, then you’re looking at best case 60 million to 100 million Nigerians that still need to get NIN.”

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The AAI coordinator therefore recommended that the government extend the NIN registration further by six months, after which it could mandate people to link the number to different services.

The President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria, Deolu Ogunbanjo, appreciated the government for the deadline extension, but demanded for further extension to June 30.

“I’m happy that at least the government has listened in a way, but 208 million SIM cards are yet to be linked. We want it extended to June 30. With that, there won’t be any excuse for anybody to not have registered,” he said.

On his part, the President, Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers, Sina Bilesanmi, said the NIN/SIM deadline extension should be for at least six months.

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He stated that the deadline was still unrealistic, noting that the NIMC had only managed to issue about 47 million NINs even with its 14-year hard work.

Bilesanmi also expressed worry about the safety of subscribers’ personal data and urged the Federal Government to compel telcos to ensure their personal data were secured, safe and well managed.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, said with operators now registering NINs on behalf of NIMC, the number of enrolled NINs would be increased and improved.

“I can’t say the time is sufficient but I think if we continue with the current effort as deemed by all the stakeholders, by the time we get to the new deadline, the numbers will look much better,” he said.

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Adebayo appealed to Nigerians to obtain their NINs, if they had not done so.

The Director-General, NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, said the commission was on course to meeting the target of enrolling all Nigerians within the timeframe, subject to availability of funds and the ongoing pandemic easing out.

He projected that by the end of the first quarter of 2021, the existing 1,000 enrolment centres would have been tripled.

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