143.4m lines to be linked before February 9 deadline
As Nigerians continue to struggle to enrol for the National Identity Number (NIN), the Federal Government has given an assurance that at least 143.4 million lines will be linked before the February 9 deadline. T his came as the telecommunications operators are said to have so far received a total of 47.8 million NINs.
While the deadline for those yet to enrol for the national number remains February 9, 2021, government had given those who already enrolled until yesterday, January 19, to submit it to their service providers or be blocked. According to a statement by the Director of Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the Technical Implementation Committee set up under the Ministerial Task Force for the implementation of the NIN-SIM linkage reported significant progress after a review of the exercise.
“So far, a total of 47.8 million NINs have been collected by the mobile operators. At an average of three to four SIMs per subscriber, this means many millions will be linked up before the deadline in February 2021,” the statement read. Based on the average of three SIMs per NIN and the number of NINs already submitted to the operators,at least 143.4 million lines are expected to have been linked before the deadline. As of November 2020, there were 207.5 million active lines in the country, according to NCC data, all of which are expected to be linked on or before the February 9 deadline.
Reacting to the committee’s report, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, expressed satisfaction with “this commendable achievement.” He expressed the Federal Government’s appreciation for the commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders and citizens and urged them to submit their NINs before February 9, 2021 deadline. The minister urged the technical team to fast-track the processes so that the project is delivered soonest.
“The Technical Committee drew attention to the App developed by FGN, which allows subscribers to link up to a maximum of seven (7) SIMs to their NIN. The minister concluded by reminding Nigerians to secure and protect their NINs, urging subscribers to desist from selling their NINs or allowing others to use their NINs for registration, warning that any act committed with the SIM, good or bad, will be officially traced and attached to the NIN owner,” the statement read.
Earlier this month, NCC had allayed the fears of subscribers over possible mass disconnections of telephone lines at the expiration of the deadline for the NIN-SIM integration exercise.
The telecoms regulator described the fears as unfounded, noting that with 43 million already issued NIN, about 172 million lines out of the 207.5 million active lines may have been linked. This, the Commission said, was because almost all Nigerians have multiple SIMs, which means that a NIN could be linked with multiple numbers belonging to one person. “A recent survey conducted in Nigeria has shown that on average, there are now approximately four to five SIMs to every human subscriber.
This explains the basis of allowing the linkage of up to seven SIMs to one unique NIN in the recently launched Federal Government portal,” the Commission said in a statement by Adinde. “Thus, if there are 43 million Nigerians with NINs, this could account for about 172 million SIMs already linked to NINs. It is very important to emphasize that the current exercise of linking NIN to SIM(s) is for the common good of all Nigerians, as it has far-reaching benefits,” NCC added.
The telecoms regulator said that the fear of mass disconnection is based on the erroneous assumption that for every network or SIM connection, there is one unique human subscriber. It noted that with the advent of social media and an App-driven digital environment, network subscriptions went beyond human subscribers to include machines like PoS, Routers, Wi-Fi devices, electricity meters, CCTV and tracking devices, among others.