Deadline for SIM-NIN linking extended to 31 December 2021 following pleas by mobile operators, authorities said.

Challenges with capturing phone owners at home and overseas in the national identity database force government to extend registration deadline.

Government requires citizens and legal residents to obtain National Identity Numbers(NINs) and link them to their phone data.

Authorities warned yesterday that those who fail to link their lines by year-end risk losing access to the phones.

This is the seventh deadline extension, this time at the request of local telecom operators, officials said in a statement.

Government hopes to, among other uses, deploy the database to assist security agencies track and contain criminal activities.

Thus, the effort won’t succeed if every phone number is not linked to the national database to match individual profiles.

Diaspora Nigeria is however not the only group that government is finding difficult to track down and capture in the identity register.

Communication Minister Isa Pantami also listed foreigners, diplomats, and citizens “in other areas that were hitherto unreachable.”

The citizens include “Nigerians in remote areas, schools, hospitals, and worship centres,” according to a joint statement from NIMC and NCC.

Government said it bowed to appeals by Mobile Network Operators for another extension to enable them push for better compliance.

The operators argued that the critical groups shouldn’t be removed from the network as this will widen the digital divide.

Registration progress report

Agencies handling the process said over 66 million NINs have been issued, representing one-third of Nigeria’s estimated 200 million population.

“A significant part of the populace is yet to be registered into the National Identity Database (NIDB),” the authorities said.

NCC and NIMC said there “over 9,500 enrolment systems and over 8,000 NIN enrolment centres” to capture citizens worldwide.

The statement was endorsed by spokespersons Ikechukwu Adinde (NCC) and Kayode Adegoke (NIMC).

Deadline for SIM-NIN linking extended