The federal government has stated arrangements are ongoing to replace the Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) with the National Identity Numbers (NIN).
The Nation reports that the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, who made this known shortly after a tour of telecoms operators and NIN licenses in Abuja, said President Muhammadu Buhari has been briefed on the on-going NIN registrations.
It was gathered that the minister said the president was happy with the conduct of the exercise so far, adding that he had also briefed the National Economic Sustainability Committee headed by Vice president Prof Yemi Osinbajo on the imperative of replacing BVN with NIN.
Pantami argued that while BVN was only for accounts holders with various banks, the NINs are for all Nigerians irrespective of their status.
The minister also visited the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) registration centre in Gwarinpa, the zonal headquarters of Glo Mobile, MTN and Airtel in Maitama as well as a Private operator, OMNL, Nigeria.
Pantami was accompanied by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC,Prof Garba Danbatta; director-general of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa and Chief Executive Officer of NIMC, Engr Aliyu Aziz.
The minister noted that he was impressed by the strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols at all the registration centres.
"The challenge is that the BVN records may not be 100% the same with NIN but what is most important is that the NIN is the primary identity of each and every citizen, including legal residents.
''BVN is a policy of a bank and has not been established by law, NIN is the only mandatory number and the primary identification of our citizens and every other identification is secondary."
Earlier the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami had said that the enrolment process of the National Identification Number (NIN) registration process would be reviewed if the FG decides to impose a fresh lockdown as a result of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister said once the federal government announces another lockdown, the ministry will meet with the National Identity Management Commission, and telecommunication operators to review the NIN linkage to SIM cards exercise, Punch reports.
Pantami said, “If a second lockdown is enforced, then, the ministerial taskforce including NIMC and all mobile network operators will sit immediately and review.
The task force meets usually within one week.
''So, when there is a second lockdown, we're citizens, we must respect the Federal Government’s directives. When there is any announcement, we will come back to the drawing board immediately and review the whole thing.
But now, it has not been announced and these (COVID-19) guidelines are to be respected.”
According to The Nation, Pantami also said the ministry and NIMC are working to transform the NIN enrolment process and the onward linkage to SIM cards.
In a related development, Telephone subscribers have been advised to protect their Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) and their National Identity Numbers (NIN) jealously.
Daily Trust reports that the plea was given on Tuesday, January 25, by the federal government, saying it would now use the NIN to trace people for either good or bad reasons.
It was gathered the federal government also announced a total of 47.8 million NINs had been collected by the mobile operators,adding that it hopes more NINs would be collected before the February 9 deadline.
Isa Pantami urged subscribers to desist from selling their NINs or allowing others to use their NINs for registration.
The minister gave the warning in a statement issued in Abuja by the director public affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ikechukwu Adinde.
''For any action committed with the SIM, good or bad, it will be officially traced and attached to the NIN owner."
The statement further stated that at the end of a review meeting on Monday, January 18, the Technical Implementation Committee under the Ministerial Task Force reported significant progress in the ongoing NIN-SIM linkage exercise.
The NCC stated:
''So far a total of 47.8 million NINs have been collected by the mobile operators. At an average of three to four SIMs per subscriber, this means many millions will be linked up before the deadline in February 2021."
Reacting to the report of the committee, the minister on Tuesday, January 25, expressed satisfaction with the commendable achievement.
Pantami also expressed the federal government’s appreciation for the commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders and citizens and urged them to submit their NINs before the February 9 deadline.
The minister urged the technical team to fast-track the processes so that the project would be delivered soonest.
The report also noted that the technical committee also drew attention to the App developed by the FG which allows subscribers to link up to a maximum of seven SIMs to their NINs.
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