Home Big Story National Identification Number: ‘Why BVN-linked NIN can’t work for SIM pairing’

National Identification Number: ‘Why BVN-linked NIN can’t work for SIM pairing’

National Identification Number: ‘Why BVN-linked NIN can’t work for SIM pairing’
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Nigeria’s ID regulator has explained why owners of National Identification Number otherwise called NIN, generated from BVN, cannot use them for linking SIM and NIN records.

A number of BVN owners who discovered that NIN has been automatically generated for them without enrolment took for granted that it would be the same experience with the pairing of their SIM records for the mandatory SIM+NIN linking ordered by Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.

But they were wrong as National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) says that owners of NIN generated from BVN are required to have their biometric information captured at an enrolment centre before they can link same to their SIM records.

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Technology Times file photo shows Engineer Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, Director General/CEO of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), seen holding a National ID card during an interview with Technology Times at the NIMC Headquarters in Abuja

National Identification Number: Difference between NIN and BVN

The Bank Verification Number (BVN) is issued by the central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while the National Identification Number (NIN) is issued by NIMC.

NIMC says the two identifiers, BVN and NIN, are different and cannot serve the same purpose under the ongoing scheme by the Nigerian ID regulator to harmonise and integrate existing identification databases in government agencies, and also integrate them into the National Identity Database (NIDB) managed by the Nigerian ID regulatory agency.

“The NIN is not temporary, it is permanent. It does not expire. It is the identity of the person issued for life and only rested on the death of the person. It is not transferable because it is tied to the biometrics of the person it is issued to.”

– National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)

“Bank Verification Number is what we call functional number given to an eligible person. Therefore, only persons with bank accounts are eligible for it. It is not mandatory for everyone to obtain the BVN”, NIMC says in its fact sheet reviewed by Technology Times.

national-identification-number-why-bvn-linked-nin-cant-work-for-sim-pairing
People seen walking through a street in Computer Village in Ikeja

“The NIN on the other hand, is an identity token that identifies every individual irrespective of age, gender, financial or other status. It is called the Foundation Number/ Foundation Identity that enables the owner to be able to identify him/herself before the bank, hospital, immigration, voter’s register and every other transaction. So therefore, it is the foundation upon which the functional numbers/IDs such as the BVN and all the others rest/rely upon”, the Nigerian ID regulator says.

‘How National Identification Number is generated’

According to NIMC, NIN is an 11-digit number randomly generated on the successful enrolment of a person, and the number unique to the person it is issued to.


“The NIN is not temporary, it is permanent. It does not expire. It is the identity of the person issued for life and only rested on the death of the person. It is not transferable because it is tied to the biometrics of the person it is issued to”, NIMC says.

national-identification-number-why-bvn-linked-nin-cant-work-for-sim-pairing
Technology Times file photo shows Dr. Isa Pantami, Communications and Digital Economy Minister of Nigeria

Features of National Identification Number

The ID regulator which says it has put in place mechanisms for the protection of data from the point of collection, at transmission, while in storage in the National Identity Database, and also in the process of verification and authentication of identities further lists other NIN features:

  • It is an Identity token and therefore does not confer citizenship on the holder.
  • NIN is issued once in a lifetime and any attempt to re-register is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment and fine.
  • It is issued on a security paper called the NIN Slip, can be digitally sent to the phone or email of the person if so desired.
  • Once issued with a NIN, a person can assert/confirm his/her identity anytime and anyplace worldwide.

NIMC on benefits of National Identification Number enrolment


NIMC says the enrolment for the NIN is mandatory for all Nigerian citizens residing in Nigeria the Diaspora, and also for foreigners (other than the non-Nigerian diplomatic community) residing in Nigeria.

NIN is “the only document permissible by the laws of Nigeria for the ‘Identification’ of a person in Nigeria” and serves as “the only identity token required before services are provided by government agencies including consular services provided by the Nigerian embassies and missions abroad.”

According to NIMC, some of the other reasons that make the unique identifier a must-have are:
*The NIN is a pre-requisite for government & social services and it entitles a holder to be eligible to the following:
i. The registration on the voters register and the exercise his/her voting rights during elections;
ii. The issuance and renewal of the Nigerian international passport;
iii. Opening, activation and operation of a Nigerian bank account;
iv. Access to consular services in all Nigerian Embassies and Missions abroad.

Progress report on NIN+SIM linking

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently announced that mobile network operators (MNO) have collected 47.8 million NINs under the ongoing scheme to link SIM and NIN records of Nigerian telecoms subscribers.

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Technology Times file photo shows Professor Umaru Garba Danbatta speaking to Media Executives at a breakfast meeting in Lagos

MNOs and their subscribers are caught in the race to meet the February 9 deadline stipulated for subscribers to comply with the other or risk being cut off the nation’s telecoms networks.


national-identification-number-why-bvn-linked-nin-cant-work-for-sim-pairing
Nigeria’s active phone lines at November 2020.

Official records by NCC show that the Nigerian telecoms market had 207,907,709 active phone lines and active internet subscription base was 154,878,203 by November.

Pantami “expressed the Federal Government’s appreciation for the commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders and citizens and urged them to submit their NINs before 9th February, 2021 deadline”, NCC says in the statement.

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