The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has revealed that he received death threats for initiating the mandatory linking of the National Identification Number (NIN) to the telecom SIMs.
Recall that in 2020, the Nigerian government directed citizens to register and synchronise their NINs to their SIMs, as the government moved to curb insecurity in the country.
The murderous activities of Boko Haram also played a factor in the demand for NIN to be linked to SIMs, in a bid to track criminal elements.
Pantami’s decision was to address the volatile communication services, which criminals are said to be taking advantage of to carry out their activities.
The minister, on Thursday, 26 May, said this drew death threats from various places, but he insisted on the initiative to be implemented.
Pantami said he was willing to sacrifice his life for Nigeria amid intimidation and a campaign to tarnish his image, “After the announcement of the NIN-SIM Linkage Policy, I received death threats from those who are against the policy. But I said to myself, I can sacrifice my life for Nigeria.
“With all the intimidation and the campaign of calumny sponsored to tarnish my image, I stood my ground and said the NIN-SIM linkage policy has come to stay, and there is no going back. Digital identity is the foundation of development for any responsible country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Business Africa earlier today reported that Pantami has been blamed for the rising debt owed by Nigerian banks to MTN Nigeria, Airtel and other network providers.
The telecommunications industry provides the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platform, which banks offer to their account holders to perform financial services without visiting the bank.
Account holders are charged for using the USSD platform and the fees are shared between the telecom firms and the banks, however, the banks haven’t been remitting the commission of the telcos, as they charged the account holders directly.
The debt owed by the banks has increased from N48 billion to N150 billion as of May, and the network providers said Pantami preventing the telcos from charging bank customers directly through Airtime caused the debt to skyrocket.