NIN enrollment hits 51m, SIMs registration 189m
By Egena Sunday Ode
The Federal Government (FG) said on Thursday that it’s not in a hurry to lift the current ban on new subscriber identification module (SIM), registration due to the precarious security situation in the country.
According to the FG, security, issues take precedent over the economy and other matters and should be given the priority they deserve.
It also noted that SIM registration carried out in the past grossly compromised the system with so many irregularities.
Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, stated these at the sixth edition of the ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Media Team, at the Villa Villa Abuja.
He noted that the decision to suspend new SIMs registration was one of the most difficult, saying however, that it had to be done in the interest of security of citizens.
He said: “The ban on new sims remains in place for security reasons. We know this ban is painful but very necessary. In the past, SIMs registration process were compromised, most of the SIMs were improperly registered, hence we have most of the SIMs used to commit crimes in the country. So what we are doing now is matching all the SIMs with NIN. This has become necessary for security purposes.”
“The ban may affect our economy, but when addressing the issue of security, the economy takes back stage..
“People used the biometrics of one person to register about 100 sims, after people are given money, this is even as some SIMs were improperly registered.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions taken as a Minister. It is a very painful decision, but we had to take it.
Pantami also disclosed that the number of SIM card subscribers linked to NIN so far is over 150 million, adding however, that enrollment of NIN is 51 million, as at 31st March, 2021.
According to him, while 150 million are completed registration, the remainder of over 30 million have problems of improper registration.
He also warned that those yet to obtain their NIN, risk between seven and14 years imprisonment as stipulated by the constitution.
The Minister explained that while obtaining a SIM card maybe optional, NIN is mandatory, citing section 27 of the NIMC Act of 2007, which stipulates that it is a criminal offense in Nigeria to carry out business activities without first acquiring the NIN number.
“The NIMC Act clause 27 states that you need the NIN number for opening bank account, for insurance, land transactions , voters registration, drivers licenses.
“So, it is an offense to transact any business activity without first having your NIN.”
Pantami also added that the number of enrollment centres have doubled; while the number of computers have tripled.
Pantami further noted that the cost of data provided by telecommunications companies has been halved since last year from about N1,200 per gigabyte to leas than N500 now.
He, however, blamed some State Governors for the high cost of data production by inflating the charges telecommunication firms pay State governments for right of way in installing their cables.
“Some states charge as high as N60,000 per linear meter whereas it should not ordinarily be more than N145”, he said.
Pantami said he had engaged the Governors through the Nigeria Governors Forum and pleaded with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in the matter; stressing that if the anomaly is corrected fully, the GSM and telecom firms companies will produce even cheaper data.
Speaking on the performance of the ministry in 2020, the minister said but for the ICT sector, Nigeria would not have been able to exit recession occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic at the time it did.