Nigeria gives extra month to connect ID with SIMs, after onl

Nigeria gives extra month to connect ID with SIMs, after only 51m sign up

07 April 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Nigeria is running behind schedule on its aim to link its national identity scheme with citizen’s phone accounts, so is giving people another 30 days.

A total of 51 million people out of Nigeria’s 201 million population have so far signed up to link their SIM phone cards with their national identity numbers, said the government.

Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami (pictured, chairing the meeting), minister of communications and the digital economy, said: “Based on the requirement by law, every citizen and legal resident must obtain his/her national identification number (NIN) which is being coordinated by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). It’s a requirement by law.”

The deadline to complete the process was yesterday, 6 April, having already been extended from 30 December 2020, but at the last minute the government issued a new deadline, 6 May, according to Kayode Adegoke, an official of the National Identity Management Commission.

The Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, endorsed the extension, said Adegoke.

However, reports from the country say the telecoms regulator, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), is adding only 2.6 million registrations a month, using 3,800 identification centres, implying that it will fall short of the target. “Many other centres are also in preparation,” said the NCC in a statement.

The NCC said: “Many people have identified themselves and are in the process of being assigned an identification number. With each person having an average of three-to-four SIM cards, the total number of SIM cards linked to national identification numbers would be close to the total number of SIM cards registered in the country.”

Abdulrasheed Bawa, president of the Nigerian Commission against Economic and Financial Crimes, said the process will help the federal government to better control the activities of fraudsters and cybercriminals.