Thousands have been left stranded following a technical glitch from the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC) that has grounded a lot of services from the telecoms, banks and immigration services.
Following the directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the inclusion of NIN in the requirements for all new and existing SIM cards, telecom firms are required to synchronise their SIM registration portals with the NIMC portal in order to verify the details of their subscribers.
The glitch has caused the telecoms to suspend SIM replacement/acquisition as the downtime of the NIMC site enters its sixth day already.
A source who spoke at one of the telecommunication outlets said, “NIMC made it compulsory that before we can register a customer, we have to verify their NIN. The agency gave us a back route to its server. We connect to the server to verify NIN. When we verify, it will bring the record of the customer (the information the customer gave to NIMC while registering for NIN). We have to confirm the information the customer gave NIMC against what we have.
“There’s a way we connect to the NIMC server. It is that server that has been down since Wednesday.
“Before now, we didn’t need NIN to do this. We just use the customer’s valid ID card and SIM pack. If the customer does not have that, a sworn affidavit is okay. However, the introduction of NIN has changed that.”
Speaking on how the development might affect the company’s revenue, the official said, “We have registration stores (centres) that attend to hundreds of customers on a daily basis. In my service centre, we attend to not less than 200 customers in a day. We can’t really estimate the amount we are losing. Sometimes, after retrieving their lines, some customers can buy as much as N30,000 airtime. Some can buy as much as N5,000 airtime. So, any day we don’t do business, one service centre can lose up to hundreds of thousands of naira.”
The NIMC had reportedly held a meeting with telecoms and other stakeholders over the development.
It was learnt that the NIMC advised telcos to temporarily revert to the vNIN platform until it is able to sort out its technical difficulties.
A top official privy to the development said, “NIMC confirms its service is still down and it doesn’t have an estimated turnaround time from its service provider.
“Hence, it is looking for alternatives to restore services over the weekend.
“However, NIMC has proposed that we use vNIN in the interim which the industry kicked against based on technical readiness and process issues.”
The Nigerian Immigration Service has reported that passport application process was delayed in some passport offices because the NIN verification process was paused.
They added that some passport capturing appointments might have to be rebooked over the development.
“The glitch at the NIMC portal affected passport application process during the week. There was a need to verify applicants NINs. This could not be done. It started since late on Tuesday,” an immigration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Also, top officials of some banks said the development affected account opening during the past week as applicants who had NIN as their only means of identification could not be attended to.
“Banks have various portals for verifying IDs. Those with NINs could not be attended to because the portal was down,” an official of FCMB said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the development.
In a statement, the NIMC has said its NIN verfifcation service was down due to maintenance being executed by its service provider.
The statement was titled ‘NIMC NIN verification service temporarily unavailable.’
It read, “The National Identity Management Commission wishes to inform the general public that its NIN Verification Service is temporarily unavailable due to the maintenance service being carried out by one of the Commission’s network service providers.
“The NIMC wants to assure the public that verification and authentication services would be restored once the maintenance is concluded.
“The commission apologises for any inconveniences this might cause our esteemed customers, and all hands are on deck to ensure speedy restoration. Meanwhile, the public can make use of the alternative tokenisation verification platform.”
The President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said the association was aware of the NIMC server downtime and had been duly informed that the situation was being handled.
He said, “I learnt it’s a network issue. It’s something they’re looking at. I called two operators, especially the regulatory officials and they said they were working on it and that it would soon be restored. It’s rather unfortunate, but what do you do? I’m sure NCC knows about it.
“What I’ve not done is to talk to the NCC, and that is because the operators have said it’s an issue they are addressing. I want to go to Alausa tomorrow to find out what is happening apart from what the operators have told me.”