Will millions of Nigerians lose their mobile phone lines on 31 October? Or will the federal government extend the national identity number / subscriber identity module (NIN-SIM) linkage deadline yet again?
Many subscribers have still not registered. According to the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, over 60 million unique subscribers have registered their NIN numbers out of an estimated 110 to 118 million unique subscribers.
To make matter worse, the NCC says that Nigerians without an NIN will be denied the opportunity of acquiring driving licences and passports.
According to the Punch website, the President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, wants an extension of the registration system to the end of the year, not least because registration centres for NIN are now packed. He evidently also hopes that subscribers will take advantage of the remaining days left in the present window.
It’s quite possible to lose count after all these months, but if it did happen it would be the seventh extension for a mandate that in mid-December 2020 allowed only two weeks for subscribers to register.
Part of the reason for the policy of requiring Nigerians to link their SIMs to their NINs was to deal with the security situation – in particular the rising number of crimes apparently enabled by easy access to SIM cards (many Nigerians are multiple SIM owners). It's not yet clear whether that has worked.
But the policy does seem to be having an effect – of sorts. Since it was launched in December last year, operators have lost more than 19 million subscribers, according to subscriber data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).