The Federal Government has extended the deadline for the integration of National Identity Number (NIN) with the SIM registration database by six weeks, from December 30, 2020, to February 9, 2021. The extension is to allow Nigerians yet to enrol for the NIN to do so.
In addition, a three weeks extension has been granted to subscribers who already have their NIN to link same with their SIM from December 30, 2020, to January 19, 2021. This was announced by the National Task Force on National Identification Number (NIN) and SIM Registration after its meeting yesterday.
The meeting was chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) with major stakeholders in the sector including Chairman-NCC, EVC-NCC, DG-NITDA, DG-NIMC, ECTS/ECSM-NCC, Chairman ALTON, CEOs of MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Glo, Smile, and 9Moble in attendance.
While noting that verification charges remain suspended during these extensions, the Task Force said NIMC has provided strategies to enable citizens to attend the registration in full compliance with Covid-19 protocols – particularly the use of facemasks which remains mandatory and maintenance of social distancing.
Recall that the government had last week directed that all telecom operators in the country to update their SIM registration database with valid NIN of the subscribers. The compulsory submission of NIN by subscribers, the government said, was to take place within two weeks, from December 16, 2020, and end by 30 December 2020, after which unlinked lines would be blocked.
This has, however, generated negative reactions from Nigerians even as many condemned the government for coming up with a deadline that was not feasible. The House of Representatives had also intervened, urging the telecoms regulator to give subscribers up to 10 weeks.
Telecoms subscribers in the country are also expressing apprehension over the rising cases of COVID-19 and need to go for NIN enrolment, where there would be a crowd. Although all the telecoms service providers have introduced codes to allow subscribers who already have the NIN do a seamless integration on their lines, the fear stems from the fact that millions of phone users are yet to enrol for the number being issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). According to the subscribers, many Nigerians now face the risk of contracting the deadly disease while queuing up for the NIN enrolment.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 protocols were thrown into the winds yesterday as Nigerians bombarded the NIMC office in Alausa Ikeja, Lagos for the enrolment. The situation further confirmed the fears that the enrolment could spark a fresh outbreak of the disease. NIMC was forced to close its office yesterday as the crowd became uncontrollable.