‘Nigeria Set to Have Credible Identity Management System’

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Stakeholders in the telecoms sector have said the ongoing SIM-NIN integration process, if successfully completed, will enable Nigeria to have a credible identity management system.

They, therefore, reiterated their support for the initiative and the need to ensure that it is successful, since governments had in the past tried to achieve a single database for identity management system, but to no avail, a situation that has left Nigeria’s national identity ecosystem in a very porous state.

The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo told THISDAY that the current move by the federal government to integrate Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards, issued by telecoms operators, with the National Identification Number (NIN), issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), would help Nigeria to have a credible identity management system and at the same time, put Nigeria on the map of countries with workable digital identity management system.

The President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, advised the federal government to give ample opportunity of not less than six months period, to successfully complete the exercise.

According to Adebayo, “The year is ending with a bit of uncertainty, anxiety, and pressure on telecoms subscribers as we are under a mandate to disconnect telecoms subscribers that do not have their National Identification Number (NIN), linked with their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.

“So the idea to disconnect almost 161 million SIM cards, cutting across 4G, 3G, and 2G subscribers, and Machine-to-Machine subscribers, could destroy the entire telecoms industry, if not properly handled. So we are working with government, including the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to ensure that we achieve the new deadlines of January 19, 2021 for those that have registered and have obtained valid NIN, and February 19, 2021 for those that have not registered and have not obtained their valid NIN.”

Currently, all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have been licensed to carryout enrolment of NIN, in addition to other agents licensed to enrol Nigerians for NIN.

“We are supporting government to achieve this and we believe it could be achieved in order to have a credible national identity database, which the government has been struggling to achieve for several years now, Adebayo said.

The Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) had initially expressed concern about the porous nature of Nigeria’s identity system and database, which it had stated was in silos and that urgent steps needed to be taken to synchronise all identity data.