Embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has shifted the NIN-SIM link deadline to June 30, 2021.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) announced the deadline extension of the National Identification Number (NIN) and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) integration exercise in a jointly signed statement.
The extension, the federal government said, was due to the virtual meeting chaired by Mr Pantami and attended by the Chairman of NCC, Adeolu Akande, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Garba Dambatta, and NIMC’s Director-General, Aliyu Azeez.
The minister said the postponement of the deadline was also based on stakeholders’ request for an extension until June 30 to make it easier for Nigerians and legal residents to register.
Significant progress has been made in the NIN-SIM verification process. For example, almost 54 million people have obtained their NIN, and this can translate to up to 190 million mobile numbers since empirical evidence suggests that each unique NIN maps to three to four phone lines.
The communications minister has refused to resign neither has President Muhammadu Buhari sacked him despite calls for his removal from office.
Pantami and Buhari have claimed disgruntled Nigerians are after the minister because of his NIN-SIM policy.
Various documents, audio and video recordings have revealed Pantami’s avowed support for terrorist groups and his desire to kill non-Muslims.
Many Nigerians believe the minister is not fit to preside over sensitive national assets or occupy any country’s public office.
The Federal Government said:
Furthermore, the telecom providers and other enrolment agents have also opened several centres across the country to make it easier for eligible citizens and residents to obtain and link their NINs.
It is noteworthy that Sections 27 and 29 of the National Identity Management Commission Act 2007 provides for the mandatory use of National Identity Number for accessing several government services.
This is similar to the use of Social Security Number and National Insurance Number for accessing services in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, respectively.
On December 15, 2020, Pantami declared that after December 30, 2020, all SIMs not registered with valid NINs on the network of telecommunications companies would be blocked.
He later extended the December 30, 2020 deadline following widespread opposition against the earlier announcement and gave three weeks’ extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020, to January 19, 2021.
Again, Pantami gave six weeks’ extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020, to February 9, 2021, and further issued an eight-week extension on February 2, 2021.