The Federal Government has extended the deadline for NIN-SIM verification to Q1 2022 as the mandatory digital identity scheme crosses the 71 million enrolments mark.
As of October 2021, Nigeria’s phone subscription base peaked at 191,951,769, and following Federal Government’s directive, each phone user subscriber is required to verify their digital identity by linking their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) data from their Mobile Network Operator (MNO) with their unique National Identification Number (NIN) issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the ID manager agency.
Professor Isa Pantami, Communications and Digital Economy Minister, who announced this in a statement made available to Technology Times says the new deadline for the NIN-SIM data verification is now March 31, 2022.
Minister on New NIN-SIM Verification Deadline
Pantami says that the Government decided to further extend the deadline based on requests from stakeholders that “have applauded the Federal Government on the significant growth in the number of NIN enrolments and the increased drive to enlighten Nigerians and legal residents across the country.”
As of December 30 2021, Pantami says, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the national ID manager agency has issued over 71 million NINs with over 14,000 enrolment centres established across Nigeria.
“Furthermore, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has also set up enrolment centres in over thirty-one (31) countries to cater for Nigerians in the Diaspora. The unprecedented growth in the National Identity Database to over 71 million unique NINs in such a short period, with about 3 to 4 SIMs linked to a NIN, reflects the concerted effort of the Federal Government, the Nigerian populace and legal residents and this is truly commendable”, the Minister says.
The new deadline, Pantami says, “would enable the Federal Government to consolidate the gains of the process and accelerate the enrolment of Nigerians in key areas like the remote areas, diaspora, schools, hospitals, worship centres, and the registration of legal residents.”
He calls on Nigerians and legal residents to enrol for their NINs and link with their SIMs during this period of extension as more services will be requiring the NIN for identification while reiterating “the commitment of the Federal Government to support the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in ensuring that the objectives of the exercise are achieved.”
The Minister, according to the statement, and “the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, and the Director-General/CEO of NIMC, Engr. Aliyu A. Aziz, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, wishes to thank all Nigerians and stakeholders for their commitment and support towards the success of the project. They also applaud the efforts of the respective staff in ensuring a seamless NIN-SIM linkage and urge citizens and legal residents to complete the process of enrolment, verification, and SIM linkage on or before 31st March 2022.”
Nigeria’s journey to expand the digital ID enrolment basket by mandating phone subscribers to link their NIN-SIM data is not new as the NCC had in 2013 mandated phone subscribers to submit their biometric details under a similar registration exercise.
The Communications and Digital Economy Minister was also to weigh in January 2020 when he ordered that citizens be made to immediately secure Digital Identification from the National Identity Management Commission and submit it to their respective Network Operators.
To ensure compliance, Pantami was to order telcos to freeze sales, registration, and activation of new phone lines. The Minister, who also threatened to withdraw the licence of non-complying telcos says the reason for the sales freeze is to conduct an audit of SIM Card Registration.
“The objective of the audit exercise is to verify and ensure compliance by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM Card Registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Commission”, he says