Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s communications minister plagued by revelations of his support for terrorism, has extended the deadline for National Identity Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) data verification to October 31.
The decision was reached following a request by interested actors to accommodate registration in hard-to-reach remote areas, foreigners and diplomatic missions in the diaspora, according to a Sunday morning joint statement by Ikechukwu Adinde, spokesman for Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and Kayode Adegoke, spokesman for the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
The extension was also aimed at addressing low enrolments in schools and hospitals, according to compiled data.
The officials said 59.8 million unique NIN enrolments, with an average of three to four SIMs per NIN in the country, had been captured.
The decision also followed a review of the progress of the exercise which indicates significant progress, hence the need to consolidate the gains of the enrolment and NIN-SIM verification process across the country.
“As of July 24, 2021, there are over 5,500 enrolment systems within and outside the country and this will significantly ease the NIN enrolment process and subsequent linkage of NIN to SIM.
“The government has approved the extension as part of efforts to make it easier for its citizens within and outside the country and legal residents to obtain the NIN and it is important to take advantage of the extension.
“The NIN-SIM linkage also makes it easier for security agencies to carry out their statutory duties and the relevant parastatals under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy are supporting them as required.
“With the great number of enrolment centres within and outside the country, and many more coming up, every citizen, legal resident and Nigerian citizens living in the diaspora should be able to obtain their NINs,” the statement said.
The statement also said Mr Pantami commended the Kano government and other states that had made NIN a key requirement for school enrolments and access to other important services.
Mr Pantami appreciated Nigerians for their patience and compliance with Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration.
“The Federal Government is excited at the news that the use of NIN in the process of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam significantly reduced the challenge of exam malpractices,” Mr Pantami said.
The statement also quoted NCC chief Umar Danbatta and the Director-General of NIMC Aliyu Azeez as “urging citizens and legal residents to make sure they used the opportunity to complete the process of enrolment and verification before the October 31 deadline.”
Mr Pantami initially threatened to cut off all telephone lines not linked to NIN in December 2020. He has now postponed the deadline of the mandatory enrolment, which he said was aimed at strengthening national security, several times since then.