In the just concluded week, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that the ongoing synchronization of the National Identification Number (NIN) with SIM cards (NIN-SIM) by Nigerians would further strengthen the fight against the worsening insecurity in the country.
He noted that with the NIN-SIM synchronization, Nigerians and legal residents in the country can be properly identified as this would provide the impetus for effective planning and cover one of the weaknesses in the country’s security architecture.
According to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Pantami, the number of NIN linked with the SIM cards currently stands around 54 million – of which over 12 million Nigerians were enrolled within the space of six months.
He noted that with the NIN-SIM registration it is possible for Nigerians to have virtual identity card for transaction purposes.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Halilu Shaba, said that inadequate satellite facility was affecting proper monitoring of bandits and other criminal groups operating in Nigeria.
According to him, the bandits have become more sophisticated in their operations as they have moved from the use of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) phones to the use of walkie-talkies.
In another development, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, stated that the long- overdue Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would be passed before the end of May 2021.
Given the importance of the Bill, as it is aimed at restructuring the oil and gas sector by ensuring accountability and transparency amongst other things, the Senate Committee working on it is expected to present its report to the lawmakers shortly.
We feel that synchronization of NIN with the SIM cards is quite in line with the global best practices of developing a centralized identity management database which can facilitate the reduction in the rate of crime as cases of impersonation and other financial frauds amongst others are reduced.
NIN as against Bank Verification Number (BVN) enables all Nigerians, even those that are financially excluded, to have a primary identification number which uniquely identifies them as Nigerians.
Hence, we expect the ongoing effort by FG to establish a single national system of identifying Nigerians, to bridge identity management capacity gap for national security and also engender social-economic development, if well implemented.