The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has blamed the lethargic approach of Nigerians for the huge crowds that besiege the National Identification Number centres across Nigeria.
Pantami says section 18 of the 2017 NIMC Act, which was approved 13 years ago, directs each citizen to obtain NIN, wondering why a great number of Nigerians have failed to comply.
Following an earlier announcement that citizens who fail to link their (Subscribers Identity Module) SIMs to their NIN will have their SIMs blocked, many Nigerians have stormed NIN centres to obtain their NIN in order to beat the February 9 deadline by the government for the linking of NINs to telephone SIMs.
Speaking on Channels TV’s Politics Today, he said the increased number of Nigerians who gather at NIMC registration centres underscores lethargy on the part of citizens as the policy was first announced in February 2020.
“The earlier deadline was quoted by many national dailies without making reference to the initial one. You can Google the date.
It was announced 4th February, 2020; that was the first time the policy was announced and it was transmitted to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). However, at that time, NIMC was not under our supervision.
“So, it was announced that every citizen who owns a SIM Card and the National Identification Number (NIN) should submit the same to the mobile operators for integration.
The number of SIM cards then was put at maximum three lines which have been reviewed now to about seven considering that we need data, artificial intelligence, etc. “But the challenge was the debate on why three SIMS; why not four.
The argument was back and forth. The truth is that it was announced that this should be done. So, the citizens had February 2020 till December 2020 to obtain NIN and submit to their mobile network operator for integration.
“The Government’s role is to announce the policy direction like we did while the parastatals were mandated to keep in touch with the citizens as part of their strategies for implementation and in collaboration with the mobile operators.
“Therefore, saying that the deadline was two weeks is wrong. The deadline or earlier directive of February was still valid.
So, you must comply. On whether inadequate equipment could make citizens fail to meet the February 2021 deadline, he said, “First, if they lack equipment, they are expected to officially notify the government. NIMC’s staff union have never reached out or written to the Ministry (even once) that they require certain facilities to discharge their functions.
It has also never come to my attention that NIMC wrote a letter requesting for equipment.”