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Angst as subscribers undergo fresh SIM registration process


Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

• Major operator claims it is a directive from the regulator
• It’s SIM update, says NCC

This period appears not to be the best time for some MTN subscribers in the country, as they have to go through a fresh registration of their Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards.

Though, MTN called the process SIM card updates, but it requires subscribers putting down virtually the information they had released during previous SIM registration exercises, including their biometrics.

The Guardian gathered that this is not peculiar to MTN; already Airtel had compelled its subscribers a few months back to go and update their SIMs. Globacom and 9Mobile are expected to give same directive any moment from now.


Failure of MTN subscribers to get their SIMs updated on or before August ending may see their SIM cards blocked. The telecommunications firm had sent messages to millions of its subscribers, requesting them to go and updates their SIM card registrations.

The message reads: “Y’ello! Kindly visit any MTN store with a valid government approved ID. Your SIM details need to be updated before August 19th. Dial *123*7*1# for the nearest store.”

Interestingly, to compensate for the hassles of having to do the registration again, the telecommunications firm, which recently got CBN licence to float financial service in the country, is giving out N5,000 Airtime after completion of the exercise.

A visit by The Guardian to some MTN offices on Airport Road, Allen Avenue, Surulere, Fatai Atere, Adeola Odeku, Ikorodu, Egbeda and a host of others, saw huge number of subscribers queuing to get their SIMs updated.

Though the process is very fast, the complaints from subscribers have been, how long are they going to be updating their SIM cards, after having done the same process three to four times in the past?

A subscriber, who gave his name as Bankole Olatunji, at the Fatai Atere MTN office, decried the entire process. He said it was the fourth time his SIM card is being updated.

“I seem not to get it. This is the fourth time i’m updating my SIM in the last four years. I don’t really know what is happening. But for whatever purpose, I think as a country, we should have gone past this era. We need a unified identity system to move this process and the country forward.”

For Henry Adokpe, a Lagos-based engineer, SIM registration is not a rocket science, “even having a unified identity system should not be a problem for us as a nation. This is my third time of SIM registration. It is stressful having to be called out to come and do what you have done before. I am not carried away by free N5, 000 free Airtime. The challenge is the time I should use for other things is being spent here, for something we have done before.”

Nkechi Ikeduru, a Medical Doctor in Egbeda, asked if Nigeria is moving forward, “if we have to be expending energy all the time on SIM card registration. It is kind of annoying! It is painful that we have to go through this process all the time. What happened to the data with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)? Because, we learnt that the data collected previously by the service providers have been transferred to Abuja, so why disturbing people up and down?”

But an MTN official, who preferred anonymity, told The Guardian that it was a directive from the NCC.

The official disclosed that NCC kept coming with one formality and the other, which is targeted at ensuring that the data collected are accurate.

According to the official, this is not peculiar to MTN, “other operators would soon be compelled to do same. I think a unified identity data base would soon be ready for the country.”

Confirming the development, the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, who appealed to subscribers, said the process is SIM update and not new registration entirely.

In a telephone conversation with The Guardian, Nkemadu explained that the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has requested that everybody should register with 10-digits and previous registration was just four digits. So we are working on that and trying to merge the database of NIMC and NCC. So, we have asked the operators to see how subscribers can update their registrations, not SIM registration in its entirety. This is to help us get the 10-digits requested by NIMC. It is a process that will enthrone a unified identity data-base for Nigeria.


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