Failure to integrate their National Identity Number (NIN) to Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) registration records may lead to disconnection of over 164 million phone lines by December 31.
Responding to an enquiry on how many Nigerians currently had NIMs, the spokesperson, National Identity Management Commission, Kayode Adegoke said it is about 43 million.
The Director-General of the agency, Mr. Aliyu Aziz, had recently stated that as of September, 42 million Nigerians had been captured for NIN by NIMC.
With the total number of mobile network connection reaching 207.58 million as of October 2020, it means, by the end of the two weeks’ ultimatum given by the Minister of Communications and Digital, Dr. Isa Pantami, over 164 million phone lines might be disconnected.
As a result of this development, stakeholders have also expressed their displeasure with the timing and timeframe of the exercise, saying the rush by Nigerians to register for NIN within a short time would aid the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Last week, Pantami has directed the industry regulator, Nigeria Communication Commission, to instruct telcos to immediately suspend the sales and activation of new SIM cards to allow another audit of the Subscriber Registration Database.
In line with the audit process, the telcos, the minister and the MCC reached an agreement that all SIM cards that were not registered with valid National Identification Number on the network of telecommunications companies should be blocked.
The stakeholders said it was unrealistic to register the Nigerians without NIN in two weeks because due to the problem of inadequate resources and NIMC registration centres across the country.
On this issue, the Managing Director, Precise Financial Services, Dr. Yele Okeremi said it is good that the government wanted to be able to identify all mobile phone users with the directive, he opined that the modality was not right.
According to him, if eventually mobile phone lines were blocked for failure to integrate the NIN with SIM card records, it would impact the financial services sector, Nigerians and the economy.
Okeremi said, “The policy itself is not bad but the timing is the issue. I understand what they want to do. They want to know the real owners of each mobile line and have a feeling that they are in control of communications, which is not bad at all; but in two weeks, I doubt if it will work.”
“The policy itself is not bad but the timing is the issue. I understand what they want to do. They want to know the real owners of each mobile line and have a feeling that they are in control of communications, which is not bad at all; but in two weeks, I doubt if it will work,”.
He added, the arrangement will create more problems than what the government is trying to solve and also wondered why everything must always be done in a hurry.
“Why can’t we sit down and think through and get clarity on them? Why do we want to do that in a pandemic when everyone is working remotely?” He queried.
The President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo agreed that a deadline of two weeks for the harmonization of NIN with SIM database was too short. He suggested that the minimum time to allow Nigerians and telcos comply with the directive should be six months.
In a statement issued by the Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria on Wednesday, the operators acknowledged that the process would be inconvenient for subscribers but promised to provide the information and support that would be needed to manage the transition.
MTN, Airtel, Globacom,9mobile and Ntel have all pledge to invest in systems, processes and structure that would be required to enable the integration of the SIM records with NIN.