Dr. Isah Pantami the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy has hinted that more than 51 million Nigerians have so enrolled for the National Identification Number.
This is even as it said there is no plan to lift the ban on new subscriber identification module (SIM), registration any time soon for security reasons.
Dr. Pantami, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the ministerial briefing by the Presidential Media Team, in the Villa, Abuja.
According to him, when it comes to addressing the issue of security, the economy takes back stage, insisting that SIM registration carried out in the past compromised the system.
He said: “The ban on new sims remains in place for security reasons. We know this ban is painful but very necessary. In the past, sims registration process were compromised, most of the sims were improperly registered hence we have most of the sims used to commit crimes in the country. So what we are doing now is matching all the sims with NIN this has become necessary for security purposes.”
“The ban may affect our economy, but when addressing the issue of security, the economy takes back stage.
“People used the biometrics of one person to register about 100 sims, after people are given money, this is even as some SIMs were improperly registered.
“This is one of the most difficult decision taken as a Minister. It is a very painful decision, but we had to take it.
Pantami also put the number of SIM card subscribers linked to NIN at over 150 million, adding however, that enrollment of NIN is 51 million, as at 31st March, 2021.
He explained that while 150 million are completed registration the remainder have problems of improper registration warning that those yet to obtain their NIN, risk seven or 14 years imprisonment as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution.
He said while obtaining a SIM card maybe optional, NIN is mandatory, citing section 27 of the NIMC Act of 2007, noted that it is a criminal offense in Nigeria to carry out business activities without first acquiring the NIN number.
“The NIMC Act clause 27 states that you need the NIN number for opening bank account, for insurance, land transactions , voters registration, Drivers Licenses.
“So, it is an offense to transact any business activity without first having your NIN.”
Pantami also added that the number of enrollment Centre have doubled; while number of computers have been tripled.
He explained that NIN will determine the total number of Nigerians that have registered because of the unique number.
Pantami further noted that the cost of data provided by telecommunications companies has been halved since last year from about N1,200 per gigabyte to leas than N500 now.
He, however, blamed some State Governors for the high cost of data production by inflating the charges telecommunication firms pay State governments for right of way in installing their cables.
“Some states charge as high as N60,000 per linear meter whereas it should not ordinarily be more than N145”, he said.
Pantami said he had engaged the Governors through the Nigeria Governors Forum and pleaded with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in the matter.
He also stressed that if the anomaly is corrected fully, the GSM and telecom firms companies will produce even cheaper data.