The Federal Government’s extension of the National Identity Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) card verification exercise by another three months has been greeted with mixed feelings. Despite security concerns, this fresh extension comes just a day before the old deadline that was set to expire today.
While some industry stakeholders applauded the extension, others queried the rationale behind earlier deadlines that subjected people to mental stress before they could get their NIN-SIM registered, verified, and linked.
The new extension announced by the Federal government, on Sunday, July 25, 2021, makes it the sixth time since the first deadline of December 30, 2020.
A statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ike Adinde, and Head of Corporate Communications, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke, said the Federal Government has shifted the deadline from its earlier date of July 26 (today) to October 31.
The statement claimed that the decision to extend the deadline was made following a request by stakeholders to accommodate registration in hard-to-reach remote areas, diaspora, foreigners, and diplomatic missions, and address low enrolments in schools and hospitals, as evidenced by enrolment figures.
Nigerians are, however, at a loss over incessant extension of deadline amid worsening insecurity in the country, which the policy ought to address. The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, earlier reiterated the government’s resolve to embark on the full implementation of the policy aimed at fighting insecurity in the country.
The Minister made the assertion in April through his Twitter account while reacting to an allegation of having links with terrorist groups. He said no amount of intimidation would stop the exercise.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari, while urging Nigerians to participate in the synchronization of their NIN with SIM cards, said it would help cover the nation’s security structure and identify criminals terrorizing Nigeria.
But with the exercise into its eighth month and with nearly 60 million already linked up, the spate of insecurity, especially kidnapping, has not abated.
In 2015, the NCC directed all telecommunications firms to deactivate unregistered or partly registered SIMs. The regulation, according to the government, is aimed at ensuring that all subscribers are traceable for security reasons. To further strengthen security in the country, the NCC last year directed the linkage of SIMs with the NIN.
According to the statement announcing the extension, this is as a result of a review of the progress of the exercise, which indicated significant progress, hence, the need to consolidate the gains of the enrolment and NIN-SIM verification process across the country.