The Federal Government of Nigeria has extended the deadline for Nigerians to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) to their SIM cards by one month to May 6th. 

The move by the Nigerian Federal Government for citizens to procure the NIN and link them with their SIM cards was first announced in mid-December 2020. A two-week period was prescribed for the exercise, but after it was clear that the time window was insufficient, the Federal Government extended it to February, and then further pushed it to April 6th.

The approval to extend the period of the NIN-SIM linkage was given at the meeting of the Ministerial Task Force on NIN-SIM data linkage held on Thursday in Abuja. The extension statement mentioned that over 51 million people now have their NINs with a significant increase in the monthly enrolments.

Based on the updates of the NIN-registration process, over 51 million people have been assigned NINs. There are many people who have enrolled and are in the process of being assigned NINs. With each individual having an average of three to four SIMs, the total number of SIMs tied to NINs would be close to the total number of registered SIMs in the country. The current number of monthly enrollments has increased significantly to about 2.6 million registrations. 

There has also been a remarkable increase in the number of enrolment centres across the country with about 3,800 centres available for enrollments. There are also many more new centres in the pipeline,” the statement said.

The Implications

This extension provides more time for citizens to perform this exercise, but it also implies that thousands of Nigerians whose source of living depends on SIM registration would have to wait a little longer for business to resume as normal. 

In the past, there have been calls and even lawsuits against the Nigerian government to either rethink how it is going about the NIN procurement process or suspend the exercise entirely. As at January, there were 47.8 million new subscribers with NINs, while 21 million subscribers were yet to obtain their NIN. 

Two months later, over 51 million subscribers have their NINs linked to their SIM cards. Can the remaining 17 million subscribers get theirs done within one month at this rate?

Time will tell, as in Nigeria, getting any accepted means of identification can be difficult. It’s an issue the government has been trying to solve since 1986. 

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