From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The fate of an estimated 11 million mobile telephone subscribers currently hangs in the balance as the December 31 deadline for the National Identity Number and Subscriber Identity Module (NIN-SIM) verification exercise approaches, with the Federal Government mum on any further extension.
This is as insecurity remained a cog in the wheel of progress as many rural communities still under terrorists and bandits seige and dreaded by officials handling the enrollment exercise.
Going by industry records, only 180 million SIMs have been linked to NINs as at October, meaning that an extension is likely, if millions of subscribers are not to be left out of mobile telephony.
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there were 229,582,206 connected lines in Nigeria in October, and only 191,618,839 lines were active.
Top government sources confided in Daily Sun that several stakeholder meetings were being held at the instance of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, to seek ways of further extension of the NIN enrollment exercise and ultimately capture the majority of Nigerians.
Pantami had on December 10, 2021 said over 70 million unique NINs had been captured so far.
NIMC Director General, Aliyu Azeez, had in September announced that the Commission was working with the National Population Commission (NPC) to create a system where children could be captured at birth in order to bridge the gap in enrollment of children of school age.
Also President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said the government would review its activities before deciding on whether to extend the deadline.
He said, “I believe the last statistics from the minister is that over 70 million Nigerians have been captured at NIN, which is a great progress from where it was two years ago.
“So, that is commendable. As always, the government will review what is outstanding and make a decision if the deadline should be extended or not.”
According to the President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, an extensionwould be necessary until 80 percent of subscribers have been captured under the SIM-NIN exercise.
He said, “It is about seven days to the end of the deadline; I want to implore the ministry to engage ALTON and ATCON on how much progress they’ve made.
“If it covers a minimum of 80 per cent of subscribers, we are good to go. But if it is less, we are pleading for an extension. Depending on how far we have come, the extension might be needed. A minimum of 80 per cent of the total number of subscribers must be achieved first.”
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