he deadline for the mandatory NIN-SIM linkage for phone users in Nigeria remains October 31 this year, the telecoms regulator says.
The Federal Government says the mandatory requirement that phone users link their unique SIM and National Identity Numbers (NIN) records under the Nigerian digital identity scheme will enhance security and delivery of government services.
Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Public Affairs Director says Nigerians should use the window of opportunity granted under the extension of the NIN-SIM integration exercise to October 31 to enrol with the nation’s ID manager agency, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
Nigeria has 189,330,257 active phone lines as of August this year, according to NCC records and every phone subscriber is required to link the unique records of the SIM cards with that of their NIN under a government digital ID scheme managed by NIMC.
‘NIN-SIM Linkage Will Enhance National Security’
“Soon, people without NIN will be denied of necessary services that play vital roles in their lives including the acquisition of driver’s license, international passport,” Adinde says while speaking during the NCC Digital Signature (NDS) radio programme, which hosted the 2nd episode of Telecoms Consumer Town Hall on Radio (TCTHR) live on a radio station in Lagos recently to discuss benefits of NIN-SIM integration.
The NIN-SIM integration scheme will significantly enhance national security as NIN is the primary identity for Nigerians, he says, adding that in line with the Federal Government’s commitment to ensure that Nigeria deploys technology to improve service delivery, the NIN-SIM database will enhance citizens’ access to government services.
Efosa Idehen, NCC Consumer Affairs Bureau Director who also explains that most Nigerians are still using SIMs without unique identification, as they were yet to link their NINs to their SIMs, says that “those SIMs without unique identification could be used to commit crimes that remain untraceable.”
According to him, security should be the responsibility of all citizens and not be left in the hands of the government alone, while urging telecoms consumers to take advantage of the October 31 deadline to enrol with NIMC, get their NIN and link same with their SIM to avoid denial of essential services in future.
Also speaking on the programme, Funmi Opesanwo, NIMC Regional Director in Lagos explains that submission of NIN to a mobile network provider helps in providing a means of verifying an individual’s identity and safeguarding both identity and mobile line.
NIN will become the first layer of verifying everything about a citizen, she says, stating that other relevant databases in other sectors of the economy are being integrated into the NIMC database for proper harmonisation.
“For instance, Bank Verification Number (BVN) is being harmonised with the NIMC database. Therefore, BVN holders have automatically been allocated NIN and we advise BVN holders to dial *346# with the mobile number linked to BVN to confirm their integration. However, NINs generated via BVN must be verified and validated by NIMC through proper registration and biometrics capture at an enrollment centre,” she adds.
Representatives of telecoms companies including Globacom, MTN, Airtel and 9mobile, who attended the programme also answered a series of questions from the consumers on the phone-in programme.
TCTHR is a consumer outreach programme of the NCC previously held in semi-urban areas but now modified to be radio-based, in order to reach every telecom consumer and as part of the Commission’s response to the efforts of the Federal Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, according to the telecoms regulator.
The first episode of the programme, aimed at empowering consumers through information sharing, education and protection initiatives, was held in Kano in August 2021 on NCC Digital Signature.