FG Reverses Ban On Sale, Registration Of SIMs

The FG has decided to review its stance on new sim registration. In December last year, the FG issued a directive, instructing all telecoms companies to cease the sale and registration of new sim cards. This was in line with its efforts to get Nigerians to register for the National Identity Number(NIN), and link all active SIMs to the NIN or face possible deactivation.


Nearly four months since this directive, only a fraction of Nigerians, about 42 million, still have registered for the NIN. The deadline for registration has been extended about three times from the previous 31st of December, to 6th May 2021. Yesterday, the office of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Pantami, released a statement allowing for the sale and registration of new sims. According to the statement, from the 19th of April, Nigerians will be able to buy and register a new sim card again, as long as they have valid NINs. 

The Technical Assistant to the Minister, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, has said that the policy reversal was due to a Reversal Policy which has been coordinated by the Minister himself,Pantami, along with stakeholders, and approved by the president, Muhammadu Buhari.


According to Bashir Ahmad, who's the president's Senior Special Assistant on New Media, the exercise was embarked on for security purposes.

He said: “The government believes that harmonising all phone numbers through the NIN will help curb rising cases of terrorism and banditry because most of the bad guys would have no option but to link their phone lines to the NIN or lose their numbers. This will definitely help to curtail and checkmate the lingering security challenges in some parts of the country.”


While it was admirable, and might be well-intentioned, it was a short-sighted move. There have been reports that the suspension of new SIM sale and registration has tossed over two million telecoms traders into unemployment. The telecoms companies and the federal government lost billions in revenue as well. Nigerians have complained on how inconvenient the policy was, as it has negatively affected the ease of doing business in the country. 

When social media corporation, Twitter, announced Ghana as their base in Africa, a lot of users on the app joked that the inability to buy SIMS was one of the reasons the company didn't pick Nigeria.

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