As telecommunications operators and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and Nigerians battle to meet the two weeks deadline for linking their National Identity Number (NIN) with their telephone numbers, the House of Representatives has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to extend the deadline for the exercise to 10 weeks.
The NCC, the country’s telecommunications regulator, had ordered the operators to block all SIM cards that are not linked with National Identity Numbers in two weeks. The deadline is December 30.
The motion was duly moved by the Minority Leader Ndudim Elumelu, representing PDP Delta, at the plenary session on Wednesday, December 16.
Although Elumelu condemned the shortness of the notice period, yet noted that there was nothing wrong with the concept of the policy.
He said: “Therefore trying to enforce this policy in a period where most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stampede in the process of rushing to get registered which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries.
“If the NCC is allowed to carry out these directives, it will bring about untold hardship as millions of subscribers will be disconnected this yuletide period, which could spell disaster in an already volatile nation like ours.
“If the NCC is not urgently called to halt their plans, there may be unnecessary panic in the country which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerians, thereby causing more pains in an already pathetic situation; hence the need to urgently wade into this impending crisis.”
The federal lawmakers later resolved that the NCC should give a reasonable amount of time to enable Nigerians to submit their National Identity Numbers (NIN) to their service providers and that the 2 weeks is not feasible to comply with the directive.
They, however, asked the NCC to extend the deadline to 10 weeks and mandated the House Committee on Communications to ensure full compliance.
The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy had at a meeting with telecommunications stakeholders ordered the NCC to ensure that telecoms operators comply with the earlier deadline of December 30, 2020.