Dr Isa Pantami, minister of Communication and Digital Economy, has said the Federal Government would soon announce a timeline for Nigerians to link their National Identity Numbers (NINs) with their bank accounts.
Pantami, who spoke with State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said the timelines for the mandatory linking of the NIN to bank accounts would soon be released.
The minister had also said NIN would replace the Bank Verification Number (BVN) because the latter was not backed by law.
Pantami had last year set between December 16 and 30, last year as timeline for telephone subscribers to link their Subscriber Identity Module (SIMs) with NINs. The government had warned that ‘violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating licence’.
After an outcry by Nigerians over the timing of the directive which had led to subscribers crowding at the few registration centres of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) across the country in disregard to the protocols of COVID-19, the National Task Force on National Identification Number (NIN) and SIM registration granted another extension.
Three weeks’extension was granted for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to January 19, 2021; six- week extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.
The Federal Government finally gave new deadline April 6, 2021, but stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to extend allow the exercise to run for, at least, six months and even remove the timeline in its entirety.
Pantami said told reporters that the Council also approved about N8.9 billion for a new National ICT Park in the FCT to coordinate public and private ICT hubs in the country.
He said: “The wisdom behind the ICT Park is for it to be a centre where public and private ICT hubs are going to be coordinated by the Federal Government, where young innovators with disruptive ideas will be mentored and all what they need provided for. We will provide enabling environment for them to utilise and come up with disruptive technologies.
“This is the first of its kind in Nigeria, we have so many parks and hubs but they are regional. This one will be central and will be a center of job creation for our teaming youths. It will be a center where technology will be developed and incubated. It will play a significant role in reducing unemployment and the reduce the gap of unemployability.
“The Federal Executive Council has approved the memo and we are going to start of establishing it in Abuja and we hope Abuja is going to be another Silicon Valley in Nigeria,” he said.