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56.2 million NIN linked to SIMs, says NCC

NCC to explore $70b telecoms market package

By Blessing Olaifa, Abuja and Lucas Ajanaku, Lagos

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have collected 56.18 million National Identity Numbers (NIN) since the commencement of the ongoing Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration started, says the Federal Government.

The government added that over 1,060 registration centres for NIN have been activated by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) across the country to give Nigerians and legal residents more time to integrate their NIN with their SIMs.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who announced this in Abuja, explained that the NIN-SIM linkage deadline of February 9 had been extended to April 6.

According to a statement by the Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Ikechukwu Adinde and his NIMC counterpart, Mr. Kayode Adegoke, yesterday, the minister ordered the extension after a  meeting of the Ministerial Taskforce on NIN-SIM registration.

Adinde and Adegoke quoted  Pantami as saying: “It was reported that a total of 56.18 million NINs have been collected by the mobile network operators. Each NIN is usually tied to an average of three to four  SIMs and this infers that the current figure accounts for a significant portion of the existing SIMs.

“This number of NINs collected represents a significant increase when compared with the 47.8 million reported by the Technical Committee on January 18.

“Furthermore, over 1,060 registration centres for NIN have been activated and made operational by NIMC across the country.

“Mobile Network Operators have opened hundreds of centres and are rapidly deploying resources to open thousands of other NIN enrolment centres across states of the country.

“This is in line with the policy of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to enhance security and make the process of obtaining NINs easier for Nigerians.”

The minister, according to Adinde and Adegoke, reiterated the need for Nigerians and legal residents who were yet to register for the NIN to take advantage of the extension to enroll for their NINs and link them with their SIMs.

Pantami also advised them to follow the safety guidelines at all the NIN enrolment centers and ensure compliance with the booking system in place.

His words: “This protocols are in line with the Executive Order on COVID-19 2020, signed by President Buhari on January 27, 2021, in keeping with the provisions of the quarantine Act 2004.

“It will be recalled that February 4, 2020 was the initial date of the commencement of the National NIN-SIM Registration Policy.

“It is noteworthy that Sections 27 and 29 of the NIMC Act 2007 provides for the mandatory use of NIN for transactions, including application and issuance of a passport, opening of personal bank accounts, purchase of insurance policies, voter registration, obtaining credit, among others.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria applauds all Nigerians and persons of other nationalities for their understanding, cooperation and for enthusiastically participating in the exercise.”

The minister also commended the efforts of NIMC, NCC, MNOs and other relevant government and private sector organisations for their unflinching support toward the success of the exercise.

Meanwhile, some of the operators licensed by the NIMC to enroll citizens and legal residents into the National Identity Data Base (NIDB) to get the NIN said they have started capturing people.

However, of all the four licensed operators, only Airtel officially announced its centres in Lagos and Abuja. Airtel said Abuja residents can visit Transcorp Hilton situated in Mataima or Airtel showrooms at Carpet Plaza and Kano Crescent in Wuse 2, while those in Lagos can walk into Airtel Express Point, Oyin Jolayemi, Victoria Island or Airtel showroom in Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, Lagos.

Lagos residents can also visit the Airtel showroom in Tejuosho, Yaba; Airtel showroom in Isheri Road, Ogba and the Airtel showroom in Oba Akran, Ikeja to register for the NIN exercise.

When our correspondent visited Oba Akran centre yesterday, a lot of subscribers were seen waiting to get enrolled. One of them said he was told only 15 people could be registered in a day. The subscriber who gave his name as Muyiwa said: “I got here at about 7.45am and met a huge crowd. I am sure most of them came as early 5am.  They had already been given forms to fill and were told only 15 will be attended to. So I left and went to NIMC office at Ikeja. The experience was the same. I just wrote down my number and I left. They didn’t tell me when to come for data capturing.”

A large crowd was also noticed at MTN office at Opebi Ikeja who were ostensibly there for data capturing while a pocket of subscribers were noticed at Glo centres at Isolo and Mushin Lagos.

Sources close to the operators said it is not too easy to hit the ground and start running because they weren’t prepared for the exercise, especially the timeline that came with it. The sources said the hardware and software at their disposal were designed for SIM card registration.

“The operators didn’t prepare for the NIMC job. What they have are equipment used for capturing the data of SIM card owners. NIMC has its standard equipment which they have to procure. Remember these equipment will be imported into the country, cleared at the ports, installed while it might be necessary to train personnel for its operation. This will certainly take some times to get it done,” one of the sources said.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, said in a matter of weeks every operator would start NIN enrollment.

He noted that operators had commenced preparatory arrangements in the regard of procurement, licensing and deployment.

Adebayo said: “There are still administrative issues that are now being concluded. There were procurement issues which was taking a little bit of time to start, but once operators start, we’ll ensure that the enrollment would commence and be wrapped with full speed.”

According to telecoms data for second quarter (Q2) and Q3 2020 released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Lagos State has the highest number of subscribers in terms of active voice per state in Q3 2020 and is closely followed by Kano and Ogun states respectively while Bayelsa and Ekiti states have the least number of subscribers.

Similarly, Lagos State has the highest number of subscribers in terms of active internet per state in Q3 2020 and is closely followed by Kano and Ogun states respectively while Bayelsa and Ebonyi states have the least number of subscribers.

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