An overload of demands on the server of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is stalling ability of network operators to reactivate over 75 million phone lines blocked since April 5 when government deadline elapsed for individual’s National Identification Number (NIN) to be mandatorily linked to their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card.
The NIM-SIM link process had more than 80 million captured data integrated but nearly that number also have been blocked as unverifiable lines.
Also, immigration authorities are blaming inability for new passport issuance or renewal on the technical blackout from Nigeria’s identity management agency as the ‘NIMC server logjam’ impacts negatively across sectors including the financial industry where banks customers are on strenuous queues awaiting feedbacks on their NIM/SIM to BVN integration.
Financial transactions without linked data are automatically invalidated leaving many businesses particularly small medium enterprises (SMEs) on edge.
Telcos are putting the blame on NIMC which
had an unforeseen downtime weeks back forcing a “massive backlogs of request for validations that will take weeks to resolve,” said someone knowledgeable about the challenges in NIMC to IT Edge News in Abuja.
“Right now, the servers are overwhelmed, proned to invalidate or even not validate already linked data of NIN and SIM owners. Backend integration is not happening within expected real-time so from a technical point of view it will take a long time to get things seamlessly running and bring succour to those affected,” the expert added.
When already linked lines are invalidated, it forces the subscriber to repeat the entire process all over again with resultant “waste of time and money,” said one angry phone subscriber in Lagos.
The umbrella body for telecom operators, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said slow verification from NIMC remains a major challenge as operators cannot reactivate blocked lines without verification.
NIMC controls the central database and must confirm all NINs before linkage can be effected to get the phone working again for any subscriber.
Ordinarily, verification should be instant. But it could take days with clogs of data awaiting attention from NIMC’s end.
The implication is a pile up of frustrations across the country and across sectors.
“The problem is the inability to link your biodata with your NIN. That is beyond our control. The server of NIMC might be down, it rarely happens, but it does happen,“ said Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Abdulrauf Aregbesola.
His ministry’s supervises the Nigeria Immigration Services (IMS) incapacitated to issue new international passports owing to technical challenges from the NIMC data server.
By law, since 2019, international passports and driver’s licence must be linked with NINs.
To further reduce rising cases of kidnapping for ransom and other security challenges, the government made NIN-SIM mandatory in December 2020 occasioned by multiple deadline extensions to fuel critics warning that the entire exercise was being stampeded without proper planning.
Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, thinks a more cohesive approach by all stakeholders including telcos, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and NIMC could help to allay mounting anxieties over economic and social losses while NIMC works the data surge.