SIM to NIN Linkage: Stakeholders urge FG to extend Jan 19 Deadline to June 30

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..SIM disconnection may cause economic shutdown- President ATCON

…Minister’s order ‘fuels’ Covid-19 hike- President NATCOMS

By Ogaga Ariemu

Stakeholders in the telecommunications sector have urged the federal government to extend the Jan 19 Deadline for SIM(Subscriber Identification Module) cards to National Identity Management Number(NIN) linkage by telephone subscribers already having on NIN portal to June 30th 2021.

Also noting that FG insisting on the SIM to NIN linkage has resulted to the recent hike of Covid-19 pandemic across the country and may cause economic shutdown if not properly handled.

This disclosure was made in a seperate telephone interview that Nigerian NewsDirect Newspaper had with the President Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani and the President National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS), Mr Adeolu Ogunbajo.

They called on the federal government to review and at the time extend the deadline for SIM card to NIN synchronization by telecoms subscribers.

When asked on the impact of possible disconnection of subscribers’ SIM cards, Engr Nnamani said the action will further deepen insecurity, noting that it will be a potential national disaster if not properly done.

Nnamani advised that the Federal Government should review the processes or risk economic shutdown.

He said, the biggest impact of a possible SIM card disconnection is not on the operators but the citizens, subscribers.

He stated that today people use phone not just as a means of establishing contacts, keeping in touch with their family and businesses rather for many people they do not have access to their banking services without their phones.

“The impact is on the socio-economic life of the people is a bigger challenge than the what operators may potentially lose. We suggest that this has to be done safely and FG need to be mindful of the potential disaster that this going to create in the Nigeria State.

“We are not speaking from the standpoint of selfish operators that do not want to lose money we are speaking on the impact this will have on the citizens of the country including insecurity it may cause.

“The bigger challenge is that if this is not done properly, we could actually see a situation of a shutdown if this is not handled the right way. It is something we have to do a review, where are we in terms of the integration of telecoms database and that of NIMC, how many people have registered and gotten their NINs.

“It will have a negative impact if SIMs are disconnected from Telecoms Networks, we just have to be sure that we don’t run into a bigger crisis”, he said.

Meanwhile, NATCOM Mr Adeolu Ogunbajo also appealed to the Federal Government for 6months extension of SIM cards to NIN linkage by subscribers.

“The time is it is too short, since 2007 there have handling NIN and they have been able to capture about 50 million, how can you now tell me that in 5weeks or 6weeks you want to cover about 120million people, It is highly unreasonable”.

“For God’s sake Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Pantami should be checked by the President. I am sure Prof. Umar Danbatta, the CEO of Nigerian Communications Commission knows the implications that may arise apart from the issue of covid-19.

“Since the Minister issued that SIMs should be linked to NIN, I am telling you the cases of covid-19 is not less than 1,000 every day, it is as if the Minister is the one fueling the spread of the pandemic. Look at those centres of NIMC they are overcrowded, no social distancing.

“Minister Pantami should save Nigerians from the second wave of covid19 for God’s sake he must appreciate the fact that the pandemic is real.

“We are appealing to the Minister Pantami to extend it by 6 months in the first instance, then review it further, they should give us till June 30th 2021, develop more Apps to make it simply for subscribers to undergone the process”.

Recalled Director Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Ikechukwu Adinde on Sunday reiterated that Jan 19 and February 9 deadline remain in force.

He said, “The deadlines are still in force; there is no update for now and just like I told you last week, if there is any change you will be communicated”.

On December 15, 2020, the Federal Government declared that after December 30, 2020, all SIMs that were not registered with valid NINs on the network of telecommunications companies would be blocked.

It later extended the December 30, 2020 deadline following widespread opposition against the earlier announcement and gave three-week extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to January 19, 2021.

It also gave six-week extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.