During the final days of 2020, the Federal Government of Nigeria directed the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to consort with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to access the National Identity Database (NIDB). They established a Ministerial Task Force responsible for synchronizing SIM card registration and National Identity Number (NIN), especially for Nigerian citizens.
Due to Nigerians’ non-compliance with the Ministerial Task Force’s policy, the federal government then extended the deadline to bolster individuals in synching their SIM cards with their NIN by six weeks from 22nd December.
Subscribers are liable to get banned from accessing their mobile network services as a penalty attached to non-compliance to the citizenship identity verification exercise.
The idea of encouraging all other key players involved with the identity synchronization policy, such as Network service providers — the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, directed the cessation of selling and registration of new SIM cards – “USSD and verification charges remain suspended during these extensions.”
Overtime, telecommunication companies, have recorded over 47.8 million NIN’s synchronized with SIM card — they reported that several SIM cards are linked with similar NIN. Nigerians participation in the identity synchronization exercise has faltered because they violated the Ministerial Task Force’s policy of “individual originality” — this term means that an individual is entitled to his personal NIN.
Due to the fear of facing the penalty of not complying with the federal government directives, Nigerians commercialized the identity synchronization exercise whereby they engaged in selling and buying personal information by multiple persons, violating the individual verification policies.
After assessing the registered subscribers’ latest report in the identity synchronization exercise, the federal government has also intervened after assessing the registered subscribers’ latest news that turned out to be unimpressive.
During the meeting in Abuja, which hosted the Federal government, network service providers, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economic — Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, started the meeting review with a warning on the identity synchronization exercise. He noted that they would officially access all the participants in due time, including those who legally and illegally obliged in its directives.
He noted that in less than one month after the deadline’s expansion date, the major Mobile network service providers in Nigeria recorded roughly 47 million NINs linkage to several subscribers registered under these telecom companies.
Pantami also commends the Technical Implementation Committee assigned with the Ministerial Task Force’s responsibilities of synchronizing individual SIM cards with their NIN. As appointees appointed by his Ministry, he supercharged them to process the registered subscribers in other fast-track the project with due process accordingly.
The second deadline issued by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is supposed to be due by 9th February 2021. In contrast, the NIN will be linked with SIM cards, respectively.
“So far, a total of 47.8 million NINs have been collected by the mobile operators. This is a commendable achievement. At an average of three to four SIMs per subscriber, this means many millions will be linked up before the deadline in February 2021,” Pantami said.
According to the Technical Implementation Committee report, the federal government is satisfied with the Task Force’s accomplishments. Its duties are to have progressively linked several subscribers to their real identity appropriately.