Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, has said that he received death threats over the implementation of the National Identity Number (NIN) and Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration in the country.
Pantami said this at the 4th Annual Identity Day commemoration, celebrated every September 16, organised by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Abuja on Friday.
“We can only get our digital economy right when we continue to improve and encourage our citizens to enroll in our national database. When we commenced the process, many people turned against me.
“My life was threatened because of the introduction of NIN and SIM registration on BBC radio and many more and I resisted believing that nobody can control my life in this world, only Almighty God. We resisted and now the process is working.
“Sometimes I can stay for one month without speaking to NIMC and there is no any problem. Today, most of our citizens that were fighting are now silent. Looking back from three years ago, the National Identity Management Commission had managed under challenging conditions, to achieve an enrollment figure of nearly 90 million enrollments for the country.
“By the time I took supervision of NIMC, the total number of registration centres were not up to 1,000 but today, we have over 50,000. Today our national database is on auto drive. We have established over 19 national policies and all of them are being implemented. This has never happened in the history of Nigeria,” the minister said.
He reiterated that the digital economy has made enormous contributions to the Nigerian economy, stressing that the ICT sector has contributed 18.44% to the nation’s GDP in 2022.
Earlier, the NIMC Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Aliyu Abdulaziz, said that for this year’s Identity Day commemoration, NIMC was partnering with the traditional rulers and traditional institutions all over the country to raise awareness on the need for NIN registration and usage at the grassroots.
“We want to use this opportunity and platform to appeal for the active participation of the traditional institutions in drumming up support for Government programmes and in this case the National Identification project. Identification is a tool for empowerment and greater use of digital ID can help bring the much-needed governance and coordination in development and service delivery.
“Without sounding immodest, NIMC has made great strides on so many fronts in the last three years. From just over 1,000 enrolment centres and 2,000 enrolment devices across the country, NIMC in partnership with its licensed enrolment partners now has over 15,000 enrolment centres and over 29,000 enrolment devices deployed nationwide.
“This is one of the reasons enrolments have increased tremendously with over 89 million NINs generated successfully. On the international level, NIMC today has Diaspora enrolment centres in over 40 countries, with more centres and countries scheduled to be added in the coming months.
“This gives Nigerians in the Diaspora opportunities to enroll and have their national identity even while outside the shores of Nigeria.
“The more government knows the accurate number of its population and the right demographics, the better the government is placed to plan well for infrastructure, social welfare, and economic development for the country,” the NIMC boss said.