The Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, has revealed plans by the Federal Government to replace the Bank Verification Number (BVN) with the National Identity Number (NIN).
This is as the Ministry is collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure citizens with BVNs are automatically provided with NINs.
This disclosure was made by Pantami, when he led a delegation of chief executive officers on a visit to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and a private enrolling centre in Abuja.
According to a report from News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), after making a presentation to National Economic Sustainability Committee, the Minister said his attention and that of the CBN Governor were drawn to the need to replace BVN with NIN.
Pantami said since then, the 2 establishments had been working on the initiative, with the CBN having more workload to facilitate the process, in order to make it much easier for Nigerians.
The Minister pointed out that the challenge is that the BVN records may not be 100% the same as the NIN, but what is most important is that the NIN is the primary identity of every legal resident in the country.
He said “BVN is a policy of a bank and has not been established by law. The NIMC Act 2007 provides that all our citizens must enrol and the law gives them 60 days to enrol from the time the law was enacted and a maximum of 180 days.
“All permanent residents in the country and legal residents that have to stay here for a minimum of 24 months must enrol so that the primary identification of all and all other databases are supposed to utilise this and not for NIN to utilise the BVN because it is the primary one.
“Some of the challenges encountered, NIMC produced the template for registering citizens in passport, BVN and others but some institutions did not comply with the requirements. Even in biometrics, some will just take four, some two, so you cannot harmonise without upgrading and integrating the system.”
He said that the Federal Government had accredited 203 operators that would help enrol citizens to secure their NIN, adding that the visit was to oversee how the exercise had been.
What you should know
- It can be recalled that the Federal Government had directed that telecommunication companies should block from their networks, any SIM that was not registered with valid NINs with effect from December 30, 2020.
- However, following public outcry, the government gave 6 weeks’ extension to subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020, to February 9, 2021, and 3 weeks’ extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020, to January 19, 2020.
- This was further extended by 8 weeks with April 6, 2021, as the new deadline.