By Francis Ogwo
As the stipulated deadline ends today, about 43 million NINs have been submitted by Telecom operators to the NIMC for verification in compliance with the registration of Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) directives of the Federal Government.
This is coming as the Telecommunication companies promised not to block unlinked SIMs.
The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, made this disclosure on Monday on behalf of the telecom firms.
Adebayo said the NINs has been sent to NIMC for verification in order to ensure that the numbers were harmonized with their respective SIMs.
“I don’t have the number of SIM cards that have been linked but at the last count, NIMC told us that they have about 43 million Nigerians who have NINs. So, we will be safe to assume that a large percentage of these citizens have delivered their NINs to the operators by way of dialling the USSD access code and/or visiting the operators’ websites and uploading their NINs on the websites.
“And by extension, I will be right to say that operators have delivered those NINs to NIMC. Now, the second part of it, which is not in our control, is how many of these numbers uploaded by the operators and forwarded to NIMC have been harmonised? How many of them have been verified? That is not in our control, but as an industry, the large numbers we received from subscribers have since been delivered to NIMC.”
Adebayo debunked claims that unlinked SIMs will be blocked as insinuated by the general public.
“If you already have your NIN and you have delivered the number to your service provider and it has been acknowledged and forwarded to NIMC, I don’t think the penalty will be there for you as from tomorrow (Tuesday) if your SIM has not been registered with the NIN.
“This is because as far as you are concerned as a subscriber, you have uploaded that number to your operator and forwarded to NIMC. Now, further interrogation of that means that you are not supposed to be penalised because you have done what you are required to do to your service provider and to NIMC.”
Adebayo also pointed out that the responsibility is now that of the commission to educate the public on the number of NINs that had been verified and cleared for harmonisation with SIMs.
Recall that the Federal Government had, on December 15, 2020, directed the telecom operators to block subscribers who had not registered their SIMs with valid NINs by December 30, 2020.
This was followed with series of complains by the general public against the earlier announcement leading to the Federal Government extending the December 30, 2020 deadline to January 19, 2021, and also gave 6 weeks extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021. A larger percentage of the public still called for an outright suspension of the registration as it was an easy way to spread the coronavirus pandemic due to the surging and desperate crowd.