Nigerians are currently reacting to the Federal government’s directive for telecommunications companies to block sim cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers, NIN.
On Monday, December 14, the Nigerian Communications Commission held an emergency meeting chaired by the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami, where the order was given. A
statement released by the NCC reads in part
”Following the earlier directive on the suspension of new SIM registration by network operators, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) convened an urgent meeting of key stakeholders in the Communications industry on Monday, December 14, 2020.
The meeting had in attendance the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as well as the CEOs and Management staff of all service providers in the industry.
Stakeholders agreed that urgent drastic measures have now become inevitable to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process.
Following decisions were taken for immediate implementation by all Network Operators: Affirmation of the earlier directive to totally suspend registration of NEW SIMs by all operators.
Operators to require ALL their subscribers to provide valid National Identification Number (NIN) to update SIM registration records.
The submission of NIN by subscribers to take place within two weeks (from today December 16, 2020 and end by 30 December, 2020).
After the deadline, ALL SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks. A Ministerial Task Force comprising the Minister and all the CEOs (among others) as members is to monitor compliance by all networks.
Violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license. The general public is hereby urged to ensure that their NINs are captured in their SIM registration data,”
Nigerians are reacting to this development, pointing out that it wasn’t well thought out. They argue that such a directive should not have been given at a time when the country is still battling with the COVID19 pandemic. They also pointed out that the process of getting the NIN has been frustrating over the years.
Aisha Yesufu while reacting to the news tweeted
”The refused to give Nigerians COVID-19 palliatives. They imposed all sorts of taxes and charges. Now they are charging you to retrieve NIN. In the meantime, they haven’t reduced cost of governance or their jumbo political salaries. Everything to squeeze the little people have!”
Kate Henshaw while expressing her displeasure to the directive, wrote
”Driver’s licence – whosai International passport – baabu BVN – for where National ID card – nayheee Its now NIN one needs to get a sim. These people are not going to be satisfied till they bleed us dry and make this hell fiery fiery hot for us. Issokay”