The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has called on the Federal Government to extend the deadline of NIN-SIM linkage to December 31st 2021.
According to NATCOMS president, Mr Adeolu Ogunbanjo, the latest one-month extension for the National Identification Number (NIN) registration by the FG is not enough to capture all Nigerians.
“Only 51 million linkages have been done so far, and that is on the average consumer having three SIM cards per person, meaning that about 17 million to 18 million Nigerians have actually done their NIN links.”Mr Adeolu Ogunbanjo, NATCOMS president
He suggested that rather than affixing a timeline to the exercise, the FG should allow the exercise to run till the end of the year.
“We have about 120 million subscribers with about 220 million linkages to be done, we have only done 51 million at the centres, and they are very slow due to poor connectivity from network operators. So, we are saying extend it to December 31 to enable everybody to register and all documents such as drivers’ license and bank accounts will now be linked appropriately,” he concluded.
NIN-SIM Linkage Deadline Saga
Mr Adeolu is not alone in his call as a human rights lawyer, Monday Ubani, made a similar argument when he won a lawsuit against the federal government, Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Communications Commission, and the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, over the deadline set for NIN registration.
In the suit, Mr Ubani contended that the two weeks ultimatum which extended the deadline to April 6, 2021, will infringe on the rights of Nigerians as many will be unable to register for NIN.
A Federal High Court presided by Maureen Onyetenu ordered the extension of NIN registration for another two months in March.
However, when the next extension came in April, the FG only extended it by one month, from April 6 to May 6, 2021. This makes it the third consecutive time the deadline would be moved.
Recall that the deadline was initially set for the end of December 2020. It was then moved to February 2021 and later by two months to April 6, 2021.
However, in the three months which the exercise has run, only 6% of Nigeria’s over 158 million mobile subscribers have been accounted for. This means that only 9 million people have obtained their NINs so far.
At an average of 3 to 4 SIMs per mobile subscriber, it can be estimated that close to 150 million SIMs have been linked to NIN.
Going by the 51 million NINs which the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Pantami claims have been integrated into the country’s national identity database and the 200 million mobile subscriptions reported by the NCC, about 50 million SIMs are still unlinked.
These numbers are proof of how impractical the initial 2-week deadline for NIN-SIM linkage in December 2020 is and why the new May 6 deadline likely won’t work as well.
Although significant progress has been made in NIN-SIM integration over the last 3 months. It would take some kind of miracle for 100 million people to register their NIN and link it in the space of a month when it took 13 years to register 42 million.
However, with more centres launching and Telcos joining the NIN registration process, the onboarding is on track to become faster.
That said, the Federal Government could take NATCOMS Dec 31st advice instead of shifting the deadline every new month.
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