By Emma Okonji and Ugo Aliogo
By The federal government yesterday extended the initial deadline fixed for the integration of Subscriber Information Module (SIM) cards with National Identity Number (NIN), from December 30 to February 19 for all subscribers without NIN and from December 30 to January 19 for all subscribers that have already obtained their NIN.
It also suspended all USSD and verification charges for the duration of the extension.
The federal government, last week, had ordered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to enforce the SIM-NIN integration within two weeks period from December 16 to 30, with a further order to enforce the blocking of the SIM cards of any subscriber that could not complete the exercise with two weeks.
However, the order had elicited reactions from the House of Representatives and Nigerians from all walks of life who protested the two weeks period, saying it will be difficult to achieve the target within two weeks, owing to the second wave of COVID-19, coupled with the fact that Nigerians are in the Yuletide season during which many travel outside their stations to celebrate the season.
Large crowds besieged NIMC offices in Lagos yesterday in a bid to register and obtain their NINs.
According to a statement yesterday by the NIMC, the agency handling registration and issuance of NIN, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, approved the extension of the deadline on the ongoing NIN- SIM integration after a review of the exercise by the Presidential Task Force on the integration of the National Identification Number (NIN) and Subscriber Information Module (SIM), chaired by the minister.
The decision to extend the deadline was taken at a meeting yesterday that was attended by the minister, and executive stakeholders in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, which include the Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz; Executive Vice- Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta; DG, National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA), Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi; Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo; CEOs of MTN; Airtel; ntel; Glo; Smile and 9mobile.
“Based on the endorsement of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the following resolutions were made:
“Three weeks extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to January 19, 2021; and
“Six weeks extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.
“NIMC has provided strategies to enable citizens attend the registration in full compliance with COVID-19 protocols – particularly the use of facemasks, which remains mandatory and maintenance of social distancing,” the statement added.
Head, Corporate Communications at NIMC, Mr. Kayode Adegoke, who signed the statement, assured the public that NIMC would ensure adequate measures are being put in place to enable citizens and legal residents to enroll and be issued the NIN.
He urged applicants to comply with the COVID-19 safety protocols at NIMC enrolment centres nationwide, while carrying out the NIN enrolment exercise.
Nigerians in Diaspora Can Register for NIN, Says Abike Dabiri
The federal government has directed Nigerians abroad to visit the website of the NIMC to enable them to register for the National Identity Number.
Chairman of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the details of the agents who are accredited to register Nigerians for NIN can be found on the website.
“Nigerians abroad should visit NIMC website http://nimc.gov.ng for details of their agents accredited to register Nigerians abroad all over the world,” she tweeted.