The Nigerian government on Tuesday approved the extension of the deadline for Nigerians to link their national identification numbers (NINs) with SIM cards to July 26. The former deadline was today, June 30.

The latest decision to extend the deadline was made after a request by stakeholders to consolidate the enrolment and NIN-SIM verification process following the rapid increase in the number of enrolment systems across the country. 

This is according to a joint statement by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

More than 5,000 enrolment systems are now available across the country, compared to just 800 as of December. This is expected to significantly ease the NIN enrolment process and subsequent linkage to SIM cards.

Snail pace progress in registration

Getting mobile subscribers to link their NINs has been a slow process as the deadline has been extended several times already before now. This is the fifth extension since the NIN-SIM linkage exercise was announced back in December 2020.

The enrollment for the NINs has been even slower. The NIMC had on Tuesday, June 29 revealed that only 57.3 million Nigerians had been registered, out of the 200 million population in the country, with an average of 3 to 4 SIMs per NIN. 

Using the government’s estimate, around 170 million mobile subscriptions have been linked with millions still unaccounted for. Nigeria currently has 188 million mobile subscriptions, according to data from the NCC.

The number of mobile subscribers that have linked their NIN to SIMs may be significant but it does not reflect the general population. 

Nigeria has more than 200 million people; over 105.8 million of whom are adults. This means nearly 50% of the adult population are still without NIN, an indicator that targeting just mobile subscribers to drive NIN registration might not be the best strategy. 

Nigeria’s mobile penetration rate currently stands at just 50%. If mobile subscriptions alone are linked, more than 90 million Nigerians would still be excluded from NIN registration.

The government has said it hopes the increasing number of enrolment centres across the country should enable a greater number of citizens and legal residents to obtain their NINs.

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Michael Ajifowoke Author

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