By Lucas Ajanaku and Blessing Olaifa
At the expiration of the January 19 deadline given subscribers with National Identity Numbers (NINs) to sync their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) on Tuesday, only 47.8 million SIMs were successful.
Situations at the NIMC registration centre in Lagos on Tuesday remained chaotic as desperate subscribers raced against the deactivation of their SIMs.
Some subscribers who said they already had NINs complained that what they have received from their operators so far is acknowledgment of the receipt of their NINs.
They complained that they were yet to receive messages of successful linkage.
“Dear customer, your NIN submission was successful. You can also link your other Airtel numbers to your NIN by dialing *12*1#,” a subscriber who identified himself simply as Wale, said, adding that he got the message January 14.
A Glo customer, Iya Wale, who said she sent her NIN since January 12, also complained that the only message she got was: “Dear esteemed customer, your NIN has been successfully received. Thanks.”
There were many other subscribers that said they sent their NINs but never got any acknowledgment of receipt from their service providers.
Efforts to speak with the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ATCON) and the President Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Gbenga Adebayo and Ikechukwu Nnamani respectively were unsuccessful as calls and messages sent to them did not elicit and response.
The Nation gathered that 160.2million active lines had yet to be linked with the NINs.
An average subscriber in the country has between three and four SIMs going by a Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), statement yesterday.
The latest subscriber data shows that there are about 208million active subscribers on the networks of the four mobile operators in the country.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, had given subscribers and the mobile network operators (MNOs) between December 16 and 30, 2020 to link SIMs with NINs. He had threatened to deactivate all SIMs that failed to meet the deadline.
The deadline was extended from December 30 to January 19, 2021 for subscribers with NINs and February 19, 2021 for subscribers without NINs.
In what appeared to be a veiled foreclosure of a further deadline extension, Pantami advised subscribers to make sure they link their SIMs with their NINs before the February 19 timeline.
He advised Nigerians against selling their SIM cards that are already linked with the NIN, warning that crimes committed with such SIM cards would be traced for appropriate action.
Pantami said the warning has become necessary as only 47.8 million Nigerians have linked their SIM cards with their NINs.
After a review of the on-going NIN registration exercise with the Ministerial Task Force, he commended Nigerians for massively turning out for the exercise.
The minister in the statement by the NCC Director, Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, urged Nigerians to be mindful of the need to secure their NINs and SIMs.
He said the Technical Implementation Committee (TIC) under the Ministerial Task Force has reported significant progress in the ongoing NIN-SIM linkage exercise.
The TIC noted that the minister expressed satisfaction with the achievement. It said the Federal Government expressed appreciation for the commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders and citizens.