Abuja, Nigeria – Nigerians have reacted expressing worries following the two weeks ultimatum issued by the Ministry of communications for citizens to submit their National Identity Number (NIN) to their mobile phones service providers or risk being disconnected.
The news which has generated reactions from the public is a directive based on the outcome of a meeting of key stakeholders in the communications industry as convened by Isa Ali Pantami, the minister of communications and digital economy.
The outcome of the meeting stipulated that that telecommunications operators should “require all their subscribers to provide valid National Identification Number (NIN) to update SIM registration records”.
The directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given the submission of NIN by subscribers to take place within two weeks from December 16, 2020 to 30th December, 2020.
“A Ministerial Task Force comprising the Minister and all the CEO’s (among others) as members is to monitor compliance by all networks. Violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.” The statement read.
Further confirming the statement from NCC, Bashir Ahmad, personal assistant to the president on new media, shared the directive on Twitter.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given telecommunications operators (MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile and others) in the country two weeks to block all SIM cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers (NIN), the Commission has said in a statement,” Ahmad tweeted.
Some Nigerians on social media have reacted stressing that the directive is an attempt to frustrate Nigerians.
Reps want process extended
The directive has also caught the attention of Nigerian lawmakers as a motion of urgent public importance in the House of Representatives.
Speaking on the matter, the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, insisted the intention of government may be good but the timing is not good.
“Arising from what happened during #EndSARS where most Nigerians or hoodlums were using sim cards to abuse and terrorize people in office without being able to ascertain or track them. Arising from that behaviour, the NCC was actually summoned by the house and they were mandated to try as much as possible to ensure that all service providers get all the SIM cards registered and to start it with National Identity card management.” Elumelu said.
However, He mentioned that though the house had given the registration of SIM cards with National Identity Number to the commission as a suggestion, it did not envisage that the process will be limited to only two weeks.
Contributions from other lawmakers that followed also suggested the same thing that the directive was good for security reasons, however, more time is needed to complete the process.
Speaking further, Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu said “I think it will be good that we give a timeline at least after the Christmas and should end by 28th February 2021”.
Many Nigerian are worried about the multiple and numerous data collected for various purposes such as Bank registration, Voters registration, SIM registration, Drivers license registration and National Identity Card and International Passport registration which do not seem to have harmony.
Furthermore, citizens also worry that the process to obtain the National Identity number is not so easy.
NCC has given the telecommunications operators (MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile and others) in the country two weeks to block all SIM cards that are not registered with National Identity Numbers (NIN).
This article is fact-checked.
Osaze E. Isesele is a strategic communications and public relations enthusiast with interest in politics, enterprise and development.
His over 7 years experience in the media and communications landscape spans print and broadcast journalism, digital and social media as well as corporate communications.
Osaze resides and works for REPORT AFRIQUE from the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, Nigeria.