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Nigerian digital ID tokens criticized as NIN-SIM linkage deadline extended yet again

Nigerian digital ID tokens criticized as NIN-SIM linkage deadline extended yet again

For the ninth time, Nigeria’s federal government has extended, by three months, the deadline for citizens to link their biometrics-backed digital IDs to their SIM cards. This will run until March 31, 2022.

This comes as the association of telecoms subscribers in the country is raising concerns over plans to introduce digital tokens to enhance identity verification with the National Identification Number (NIN). The association says the move is clearly rushed as the federal government failed to consult relevant stakeholders.

NIN-SIM linkage extended by three months

As Premium Times reports, the previous digital ID linkage deadline of December 31 was pushed ahead via a joint statement issued by the spokespersons of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Ikechukwu Adinde, and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Kayode Adegoke.

According to the statement, the move seeks to capitalize on the achievements of the NIN-SIM linkage so far which has seen the issuance of over 70 million NINs, and to allow the opportunity for NIN enrolment in difficult-to-access areas, and other target places such as schools, the diaspora, worship centers and hospitals.

“The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami wishes to convey the approval of the Federal Government to further extend the deadline for the National Identification Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) data verification to the 31st of March, 2022,” a section of the joint statement reads. “Currently, NIMC has issued over 71 million NINs with over 14,000 enrolment centres set up across the country. The NIMC has also set up enrolment centres in 31 countries to cater for Nigerians in the Diaspora.”

Nigerians have been urged to take advantage of the extension and show up massively for NIN enrolment and to link the digital ID to their SIM cards.

Meanwhile, before the deadline extension, there were fears that over a hundred million telephone lines would be suspended as the federal government had threatened, per a report by Blueprint.

Digital tokens face resistance

In a related development, the federal government has been told to hold on with the introduction of digital tokens, dubbed V-NIN, intended to be used to enhance NIN verification, reports Nigerian Tribune.

Announced at the close of last month, the government said the digital tokens would be used for third party verification, but the national association of telecommunication subscribers, NATCOMS, said the plan is rushed as there has been no proper consultation with stakeholders.

Adeolu Ogunbanjo, President of NATCOMS, told Nigerian Tribune the move was uncalled for and shouldn’t be precipitated like was the case with the decision on NIN-SIM linkage taken in December 2020.

The tokenization of Nigeria’s digital ID was announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in December.

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