The House of Representatives has asked the Federal Government to extend the deadline for the provision of National Identification Number by telecommunication service subscribers to 10 weeks.
The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, had moved a motion of urgent public importance to demand more time.
Adopting the motion, the House resolved that the exercise should end on January 28, 2021, as against December 30, 2020.
The NCC had threatened that SIM cards not linked to NIN issued by the National Identity Management Commission would be blocked.
The motion was titled ‘Need for the Nigerian Communications Commission to Give Nigerians Reasonable Time to Submit their National Identification Number for SIM Registration.’
Moving the motion, Elumelu recalled that in January 2020, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Ali Pantami, issued a statement in which telecoms service subscribers were mandated to get their National Identity Numbers and submit them to the network operators, “with the aim of ascertaining the true identities of all subscribers and thereby blocking loopholes currently being exploited by unscrupulous individuals.”
The Minority Leader said, “The House is concerned that as laudable as the idea behind the policy may seem, the timing is very wrong because Nigerians have not been properly sensitised, as only a few educated persons who bother to read the dailies might have heard about this instructions. 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.
“The House is further concerned that if the NCC is allowed to carry out this 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.
“The House is worried that 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 Nigerian, thereby causing more pains in an already pathetic situation hence the need to urgently wade into this impending crisis.”
Elumelu prayed the House to resolve that “the NCC should give a reasonable amount of time to enable Nigerians meet with the instruction of submitting their National Identification Numbers to service providers and not the two weeks given.”
Chairman of the House Committee on Telecommunications, Akeem Adeyemi, also backed the motion.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, however, called for the amendment of the prayer to give the NCC a specific time. He prayed that the deadline should be extended by eight weeks, to February 28.
A member, Julius Ihonvbere, however, asked that the exercise should last one year due to the population that would be in a rush to meet the deadline.
Another member, Uzoma Nkem-Abontaa, who seconded the prayer, said, “One year is reasonable enough…It will be a continuous exercise.”
The lawmakers, however, voted against one year and adopted 10 weeks, when the two prayers were put to voice vote.
Another member, Onofiok Luke, urged the House to mandate all relevant agencies to harmonise the data in their separate databases. He noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria issued the Bank Verification Number; Federal Road Safety Corps, driving license; Nigerian Immigration Service, passport; Independent National Electoral Commission, voter card; and telecoms service providers, SIM registration.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, noted that the House already had a bill seeking synchronisation of all biometric data captured by the agencies.