By Uche Amunike
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has called on telecoms consumers to link their National Identity Numbers, (NIN), to their Subscriber Identity Modules, (SIM), before the October 31, 2021 deadline given by the federal government.
This charge was given during the NCC Digital Signature, (NDS) radio program that hosted the 2nd edition of Telecoms Consumer Town Hall on Radio, (TCTHR) live on a radio station in Lagos over the weekend where the gains of NIN-SIM integration was discussed.
The representatives of the NCC, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and officials of telecoms operators were present during the studio phone-in program and listeners provided the opportunity for listeners to call and be cleared on their concerns about the NIN-SIM integration exercise.
The NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde advised Nigerians to enroll it to their SIMs within the extended October 31, 2021 time frame in order to avoid being denied of necessary services that play important roles in their lives, including acquiring drivers’ licenses, international passports, etc.
Speaking on the advantages of the NIN-SIM integration, Adinde said that the exercise will enhance national security because it served as the primary identity for Nigerians in line with the federal government’s efforts in making sure that the country uses technology to improve service delivery. It means also that the NIN-SIM database will give citizens access to government services.
The NCC Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau, Efosa Idehen, on his part, stated that most Nigerians still use SIMs without unique identification because they haven’t linked their NINs to their SIMs, stressing that such SIMs without unique identifications could be used to commit crimes that would be very hard to trace.
He explained that security should not be left in the hands of government alone, but should be seen as a responsibility of all citizens. He enjoined consumers to grab the opportunity of the extended October 31, 2021 deadline to do their NIMC enrolments, get their NIN and link it to their SIM in order to avoid being denied essential services in future.
The NIMC Regional Director, Lagos, Funmi Opesanwo, while contributing to the programme averred that by submitting the NIN to a mobile network provider, a means of verifying an individual’s identity and safeguarding both identity and mobile line is automatically provided. She clarified that the NIN will be the first means of verification about a citizen because other relevant database in other sectors of the economy are being integrated into the NIMC database for proper harmonization.
She cited the Bank Verification Number, (BVN) as an example, saying that it was being harmonized with NIMC database which automatically allocated BVN holders NIN. She advised BVN holders to dial *346# with the mobile number linked to BVN to confirm their integration. She however clarified that NINs generated via BVN must be verified and validated by NIMC through proper registration and biometrics capture at an enrolment center.
The program was also attended by representatives of telecoms companies, specifically Globacom, MTN, Airtel and 9mobile and they fielded several questions from consumers.
The TCTHR is an outreach program of the NCC for consumers. It used to be held in semi-urban areas. It has however, now been modified as a radio-based program that is designed to reach every telecom consumer. It is also the commission’s way of responding to the efforts of the federal government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 scourge.
The first episode of the program was held in Kano in August 2021 on NCC Digital Signature and was designed to empower consumers through information sharing, protection initiatives and education.