The Federal Government announced in December 2020 that all Nigerians with Subscribers Identification Module Cards (SIMs) must link their lines with the National Identification Number (NIN). Of course, the government had announced the importance and the need to get registered for a proper grasp of the Nigerian database.
It is recalled that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) directed Nigerians to link their Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM).
Unfortunately, as of the time the directive was handed down, not more than about 40 million Nigerians had been captured by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) due to some factors occasioned by bottlenecks associated with the capturing system.
The government said at the time that it was worried by the spate of insecurity in the country and to be in line with global best practices that every Nigerian must be registered and given a National Identification Number.
The government has done much to stem the stampede the rush to get registered since no one wants his/her line blocked. Although, the government has extended the deadline from the initial 2-week deadline to February and later to April, but many of the problems still persist. Despite the licensing of more outlets for registration, many are still complaining of irregularities, and unnecessary waste of time.
Aside these registration problems, one big problem Nigerians are having is the linkage proper. The telecommunications operators viz, MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel Nigeria, 9Mobile and Smile Communications all have dedicated lines, website and apps for registration. This, of course, is to make it easier for subscribers to link their SIMs to their NINs.
But Nigerians have pointed out that the government must think seriously about the exercise, forget about any deadline and take a holistic look at the programme in its entirety if it must reap kudos for the energy and money put into it.
A subscriber, Mr Anthony Joseph told Nigerian Tribune that he followed the prompt of his operator to link his mobile numbers and he was told that it was successful and a confirmation SMS would be sent to him once his NIN had been verified. He disclosed that he is yet to get any confirmation SMS from his operator even after two months.
Joseph said he thought he had been registered until the discussion came up in his office and was told that his line may not have been linked. He said he was confused and worried. He was told to contact his operator and when he did this, he was told his data was not in the database of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and that he should contact the nearest NIMC office near him.
According to him, he never thought of going through that experience again and at once began to think maybe he was not properly captured when he did the registration in 2017. He disclosed that he has reregistered again and that he is waiting for the worse that is in case if the government made good its promise to block numbers not linked with the NIN. He wondered why the government is in a haste to register Nigerians, asking if the government has serious plans to register new-born babies too and those below the age of 18 years.
This has been one of the complaints of most Nigerians concerning the ongoing registration exercise. Many have also voiced their frustrations when it comes to ascertaining the status of their registration, as most time, the response from the operators will be one’s status is not clear and to contact NIMC.
But speaking on the issue, Mr Kayode Adegoke, the Head, Corporate Communications Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) said many do not know that the code *346# which is meant to check one’s status is only meant for the number with which one registered with NIMC when registration was being done and so could not bring one’s NIN if tried from other lines.
Again, he said if somebody is complaining about not getting his/her status from the operators, he said such person should contact his operator or better still to contact the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
According to him, the operators and the NCC are the two main organs concerned with the linkage of SIMs and NIN but that NIMC is only concerned with capturing Nigerians on the national database, saying the commission has been doing this conscientiously.
Efforts to get the view on this subject matter from Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, the Director of Public Affairs, NCC, proved abortive as of the time of filing this report.