The Federal Government on Wednesday said it had given licenses to selected private and public institutions to provide National Identification Numbers to citizens both in urban areas and rural communities.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, also stated that a private company had deployed over 14,000 facilities nationwide for the registration of citizens who did not have NINs.
Responding to an enquiry on complaints by rural dwellers over their inability to access NIN registration centres, while speaking to our correspondent on the side-lines of an event in Abuja, the minister said the Federal Government was addressing the matter.
He said, “For rural areas, firstly you should know that under NIMC, alone we have over 1,050 operational centres across the country.
“But based on global practice, NIMC is supposed to be more of a regulator than operator and so we started the process of restricting NIMC to do more of regulating the sector than operating in the industry.”
Pantami added, “It is because of this that NIMC has given licenses to many states to establish centres and more than 10 states have obtained these licenses.
“NIMC has given the same license of operating and providing digital ID to institutions such as NCC, EFCC, CBN, the National Population Commission, among others.”
He said all the organisations were free to establish their centres across the country and give NINs, as the numbers were free to all citizens including legal residents in Nigeria.
Pantami said, “So they have been given the licenses to operate and some other companies have also been given licenses to operate. One of them imported over 14,000 facilities and they will be deployed all over the country.
“If you want to obtain digital ID you can go there and you are not to pay because the Federal Government will take care of that.”
In another development, the Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday allays fears of mass disconnection from the telecommunications network.
The NCC said its attention had been drawn to numerous publications regarding fears of mass disconnection of telephone subscribers as a result of the ongoing linkage of SIM registration records with NIN.
The spokesperson, NCC, Ikechukwu Adinde, said in a statement issued in Abuja that it was necessary to provide clarification in order to allay the fears of subscribers and the general public.
The NCC said, “A recent survey conducted in Nigeria has shown that on average, there are now approximately four to five SIMs to every human subscriber.
“This explains the basis of allowing the linkage of up to seven SIMs to one unique NIN in the recently launched Federal Government portal.
“Thus, if there are 43 million Nigerians with NINs, this could account for about 172 million SIMs already linked to NINs.”
The commission said it was very important to emphasise that the current exercise of linking NIN to SIMs was for the common good of all Nigerians, as it had far reaching benefits.
It stated that apart from enhancing general safety, the process would help in such vital exercises like national budgeting, policy planning, social intervention programmes and many more.
The NCC said the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy had assured Nigerians that the government would continue to review the exercise in the light of experiences to ensure its smooth implementation.
As the call for the extension of the deadline on the registration of SIM cards with valid National Identification Numbers intensifies, the Federal Government has insisted that it gave enough time for the process.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, told journalists in Abuja on Wednesday that the Federal Government never gave two weeks for the registration process as widely claimed, rather it gave more than 10 months.
This came as large crowds of citizens besieged the Abuja headquarters of the National Identification Management Commission to register and obtain their NINs, while calling for an extension of the deadline.