NIN Data: Over Half Of Nigeria’s Population Are Unregistered

In the early weeks of December, the Nigerian Communication Commission issued a directive to all mobile network operators to deactivate all SIM cards that will not be duly registered with valid national identity cards by December 30, 2020.

At that time, only 41.5 million Nigerians of the estimated 200 million, according to the commission, had registered for identity cards as of May 2020.

Part of the statement read: ” Operators are to require ALL their subscribers to provide valid National Identification Number (NIN) to update SIM registration records.

“The submission of NIN by subscribers will take place within two weeks (from today December 16, 2020 and end by 30 December, 2020),” the statement continued.”   

While the commission said the move was to tackle the rising insecurity challenges in the country– a means to trace SIM Card by security agents– many Nigerians furiously questioned the short timing of the directives and registration process as the country was dealing with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic during that period.

Ignoring all safety protocols, millions of Nigerians rushed out to the relatively few centers available for registration before getting disconnected on the set deadline– but this …..

What NIN registration means

The National Identification Number, is a series of digits used by the governments of many countries as a means of tracking their citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents for the purposes of work, taxation, government benefits, health care, and other government-related functions.

In Nigeria, the  11 digits number holds the individual’s demographic data and capture of the ten (10) fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture and digital signature, which are all used to cross-check existing data in the National Identity Database to confirm that there is no previous entry of the same data.

Upon the NCC directive, Nigerians would be required to link their SIM cards to this number as a means to direct ownership of the SIM, while defaulters would be disconnected from their line.

In another development, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board also made NIN a mandatory requirement for interested candidates willing to sit for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

Multiple Extension, Slow Results

From the initial deadline slated for December 30, 2020, Twentyten Daily has observed that the deadline has been extended five times. However, with these multiple extensions, over 100 million Nigerians are yet to register for their NIN.

The first extension was dual  for different categories of subscribers respectively. The federal government approved the extension of three weeks for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to  January 19, 2021 while it also extended by six  weeks for subscribers without NIN from  December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.

Within these dates, USSD and verification charges were suspended as well as selling of new SIMs. 

The second extension was April 6, following the difficulties in enrolling for the NIN amidst Nigeria’s rising coronavirus cases. At this extension, about 47.8 million were said to have obtained their NIN. 

However, this deadline was later moved to May 6 as complications on improper registrations and data capturing developed. At this extension, over 51 million people have been assigned NINs.

Two day to the deadline, the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, gave the directive for an extension to June 30 based on the request by stakeholders for an extension. The number of Nigerians with NIN had grown to 54 million. 

Meanwhile, in a recent announcement by the commission, the ongoing registration has been extended to July 6 with a total of 57.3 million unique NIN enrolments.

The statement reads: ” As at June 28, 2021, a total of 5,410 enrolment systems are now available across the country and this would significantly ease the NIN enrolment process and subsequent linkage of NIN to SIM. It is worthy of note that there were only about 800 such enrolment systems as at December 2020.

“There are now a total of 57.3 million unique NIN enrolments, with average of 3 to 4 SIMs per NIN. With the great number of enrolment centres across the country, every citizen and legal resident should be able to obtain their NINs.” 

The Federal Government on July 25, approved the extension of the deadline for data verification to October 31, 2021. At this extension, a total of 59.8 million unique NIN enrolments, with average of 3 to 4 SIMs per NIN. 

In a latest development, the Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta said over 180 million telephone lines are now linked with the National Identity Numbers (NIN).

According to him, the feat was made possible through the capturing of over 60 million Nigerians by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in the National Identity Numbers (NIN) which are linked to 3 to four sim cards.

‘Registration seemingly stressful’

While the commission had provided for multiple enrollment centers, including SIM outlets, some Nigerians have expressed concerns on the stressful registration processes.

Tobi John said “I waited for hours, from morning till mid afternoon before I could do mine. It was exhausting. You are just asked to stand under a tent and sit till they call your name. It ought to be faster than this 

“I had to excuse myself from work to have my registration thinking I would be back in a couple of hours. I was delayed and the system was so overburdened that the network was even an issue. They said the server was down. In fact I met people who had come from the previous day because they were unable to register”, Andrew Mary said

Another Titi Opeyemi said, “I paid N1000 to do my registration. They say the registration is free but you have to buy a card or something. But in some places where you won’t pay, overcrowding would frustrate you.”

Mr. Jide Awe, an ICT  guru, while x-raying the ongoing process of linking subscribers’ NIN with their SIM said, “The 21st century demands that we utilise creative and innovative, efficient and empathetic approaches to address issues of this nature.”

According to him, “the present NIN registration processes are not delivering as required, as evidenced by inconclusive registration as well as bottlenecks, inefficiency, unfriendly and unethical practices. What people go through to register in some centers is better imagined.”

Kehinde Ogunyale

Freelance Investigative and Data Journalist

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