The flurry of news from Nigeria in the wake of government threats to block SIMs not integrated with National Identification Numbers (NIN) continues. Now, it seems the deadline has been extended.
The federal government has in fact extended the deadline for telecommunications companies to block SIM cards not integrated with NINs to 9 February at the latest.
The extension was agreed at the meeting of the National Task Force on NIN and SIM Registration which was held on Monday in Abuja.
This deadline doesn’t apply across the board. Subscribers without NIN registration will get the full six-week extension. There will be a three-week extension for subscribers who have their NIN but are unable to integrate it with their SIM cards. This takes the deadline from 30 December to 19 January 2021.
It may be no coincidence that this extension comes in the wake of many Nigerians turning out in vast numbers at National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) offices for NIN registration after the original order telling telcos to block SIM cards not integrated with NINs within two weeks.
The Nigerian government has reportedly licensed 173 centres and 30 state government institutions to conduct the enrolment of NINs across Nigeria. Despite this, big crowds have been reported, with little or no social distancing, despite rising Covid-19 numbers across the country.
As we reported yesterday, only about 43 million Nigerians have enrolled for their NIN. This leaves tens of millions of subscriptions unaccounted for. Whether an extra few weeks will suffice to make NIN-SIM integration feasible is therefore open to question.