By Chinenye Anuforo
The January 19, 2021, deadline for the submission of subscribers’ National Identification Number (NIN) to mobile service providers for the synchronisation with SIM cards is causing tension and anxiety among the subscribers as the ultimatum expired yesterday.
This is coming on the heels of an impressive response by the customers as the operators recorded a total of 47.8 million, according to the Technical Implementation Committee under the Ministerial Task Force.
Despite this, the subscribers continued to lament the NIN registration mandate by the the Federal Government. According to one of them, Mr. Friday Okwara, the crowd at the registration centres were overwhelming. “I have been to three different centres and have not succeeded in updating my NIN. I think the government should extend the deadline and also employ more hands to ease the stress on the subscribers who wake up as early as possible to queue at the centres to ensure thay are registered”.
He explained that the authority said the registration was free but in one of the centres he visited, he was asked to pay N5000 to do the registration, urging the government to fish out those using it as an opportunity to defraud Nigerians.
In his own part, Jide Awe, an ICT guru, pointed out that “the present NIN registration processes are not delivering as required, as evidenced by large numbers registered so far, inconclusive registration as well as bottlenecks, inefficiency, people-unfriendly and unethical practices. What people go through to register in some centers is better imagined.
“The situation, therefore, needs to improve drastically in terms of capacity and processes to achieve mass acquisition of NIN, considering the massive size of active telephone subscribers in Nigeria.
He also urged the government to reconsider its threat of blocking those that defaulted. He said: “In the digital age, blocking SIM cards will hurt the growth of critical aspects of the digital economy – e-commerce, Fintech, digital education, digital health, digital agriculture, etc. Many people already have their numbers connected to their digital wallets, bank accounts and other digital applications. Should we be reversing the growth in digital practices and activities, and hindering digital inclusion at this time? When we should be preparing for the emerging fourth Industrial Revolution? Technology enables speed, relevance and growth. It is fundamental to the new normal, Post-CoVID era.”
Expressing satisfaction with the level of compliance on NIN submission, the Federal Government is, however, optimistic that millions of Nigerians will have their NINs linked with their SIM cards before the February 9, 2021 deadline given to subscribers that are yet to register for the national identity card.
The Federal Government had given January 19, 2021, as deadline for those who already have NIN to submit it, and February 9, 2021 as deadline for those who were yet to register and obtain their NIN.
With the level of compliance so far, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) is of the view that NIN submission will continue after the initial deadline of January 19, 2021 because the number of those that have submitted their NINs is already on the high side, leaving only a negligible number of subscribers who have NIN, but are yet to submit.
A statement by NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, was impressed with the level of compliance so far.
The statement read in part: “At the end of a review meeting on January 18, 2021, the Technical Implementation Committee under the Ministerial Task Force has reported significant progress in the ongoing NIN-SIM linkage exercise.
“So far, a total of 47.8 million NINs have been collected by the mobile operators. At an average of 3 to 4 SIMs per subscriber, this means many millions will be linked up before the deadline in February 2021.”