Ahead of the February 9 deadline to link NIN to SIMs, telecom operators have been licensed by the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to register Nigerians for the National Identity Number (NIN) enrolment.
During a meeting to address complaints about huge crowds at the NIN registration venues across the country, NIMC Director-General, Aliyu Aziz disclosed that mobile network operators had been given the go-ahead to register Nigerians without national identity numbers, according to a report by Punch.
We have licensed private and public sector organisations including telcos (telecommunications companies) so as to create more centres.Aliyu Aziz, NIMC Director-General
The move by the commission is part of efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among NIMC officials and other Nigerians by decongesting the large crowds at NIN enrolment centres nationwide.
This follows a recent disclosure that 47.8 million NINs have been submitted to telcos since the beginning of the SIM-NIN linkage exercise in line with the directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Recall that NIMC gave a three-week extension for the deadline for all mobile subscribers to link their SIMs to February 9, from a previous January 19 deadline for those who have already obtained valid NINs.
That said, if the commission had been exploring the possible avenue of telcos registering subscribers without NIN, why was it not in the works right from the outset? Now that the SIM-NIN linking deadline is fast approaching, this NIMC’s move, however well-intentioned, is long overdue.
How Will Telcos Register Subscribers?
It is not exactly clear how network operators will go about registering mobile subscribers for their NINs. With millions of Nigerians rushing to beat the February 9 deadline, telcos can play a big role in reducing the mammoth crowds at NIMC offices amid COVID-19 concerns.
With NIMC looking to create more centres, a likely approach is the use of SIM card registration centres for the NIN enrolment process. While that may not necessarily work, many locations can still accommodate small groups of few people at once thus reducing the crowd.
Mobile subscribers can easily link their NIN to SIM using the NIMC mobile app but there is no feature that enables people to register their NINs. It seems that the best method for MNOs to execute the NIN registration would be through electronic portals for data collation while biometric and photo captures can be completed at the physical centres.
Telcos already Have Users Basic Details for NIN
Nigeria’s telecom regulator, NCC has the information of over 200 million mobile subscribers collected from operators in the country. The basic information supplied by NIN enrolees has already been submitted to network providers during SIM registration.
Inferably, this should make it easier for telcos to register Nigerians for the NIN without having to start the entire process from scratch. But this might not be carried out in this manner due to laid down protocol.
However, with just over a week left to the February deadline, it is imperative that NIMC deploys all available means to fast track the NIN enrolment process.
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