VILLA DIARY with Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
The decision of the minister of communications and digital economy ,Isa Pantami to put a deadline to the linkage of the National Identification Number ( NIN) and SIM cards was greeted with apprehension last year and the reasons are not far fetched.
The ministry had put a two months deadline and Nigerians trooped in numbers to NIMC offices to get their NIN . It was also a period when the second wave of Covid -19 pandemic was ravaging the country and the crowd at the centers was an eyesore .
To many Nigerians it didn’t make sense for a government who had been preaching on the merits of adhering to non pharmaceutical methods as a means of fighting the Covid -19 pandemic which were maintaining physical/ social distance and washing of hands with soap or sterilizer to put the same citizens in the condition they were preaching against .
However at the end of the day ,common sense prevailed and the deadline has been extended several times.
It is instructive to note that the government had attributed the linkage as a means of taming the worsening insecurity in the country. No doubt, every region in the country is experiencing one form of insecurity or the other.
Many Nigerians have been wondering how kidnappers and bandits often contact their victims’ loved ones without the security agencies tracking or tracing the location of the bandits .
However on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari called on Nigerians to fully participate in the ongoing synchronization of National Identification Number (NIN) with SIM cards across the country as it will provide a digital framework for improving security and strengthening of the economy.
Launching the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in Nigerian Telecoms Sector and Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Cards registration, the President in a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said proper identification of all Nigerians and legal residents in the country and ability to conveniently access a data base will provide impetus for more effective planning and security oversight.
“The NIN will cover one of the weaknesses in our security structure. We will be able to easily identify and know the personality of Nigerians. We will identify people easily, including the crooks,’’ he said.
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The President said the launch of the Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration was quite timely and will support efforts to enhance security and develop the economy.
“The National Identification Number is the foundational digital ID for the country; both Nigerian citizens and legal residents are expected to obtain the NIN. It will provide access to government services and will give government useful insights that will enable us to utilize scarce resources in a more efficient way,’’ he added.
President Buhari noted that the first National SIM Policy was launched in February 202o, and the revised policies were in full alignment with the objectives of the administration in the areas of economic development, security and anti-corruption.
In his remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy appreciated the President for the continuous support to the telecoms sector, including regulators and operators, thanking him for the keen interest in ensuring that the security sector gets a boost with more information on Nigerians and legal residents.
The minister noted that the NIN Registration had recorded a huge success with 54 million Nigerians already captured in the process, adding, “within six months over 12 million enrolled.’’
Dr Pantami said it was now possible to have virtual ID cards that can be used in various transactions, assuring that the NIN and Sim card registration for Nigerians and legal residents will cover 99.9 per cent.
He said the buoyancy of the telecoms sector had given Nigeria many leadership roles in international organisations, listing the impact on education, training, health and welfare of many, including the establishment of 600 computer centres, and a world class sim card manufacturing company in the country.