By Kester Omu
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), yesterday insisted that there would be consequences for any network operators that fail to comply with the Commision’s long standing position on the registration of SIM Cards.
The Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, reiterated the position, while delivering a paper titled, TRACKABLE IDENTITY AND THE EASE OF DOING BUSINESS IN NIGERIA, at the Special Independence Edition of the annual Conference of Directors and Heads of Public Relations organised by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in Lagos.
Ojobo argued that the registration of SIM Cards has in the last few years reduced criminalities in Nigeria, warning the general public not to buy pre-registered SIM Cards from persons and businesses that had done multiple SIM Cards registration in order to resell later.
At the conference, which has the theme: TRACKABLE IDENTITY AND INTEGRITY IN BUSINESS AND NATIONAL REPUTATION, Ojobo emphasized that the burden of SIM Cards registration lies with the Mobile Network Operators who are expected to deactivate SIM cards that do not carry verifiable identities, because operators are under obligations to have the identities of all callers on their respective networks.
Undertaking a conceptual clarification within the framework of the Conference theme, Ojobo stated that trackable identity is the ability to identify an individual operating or transacting business in the cyberspace. He noted that within the Nigerian environment, some identity objects are bereft of digital object identifiers, thus posing serious challenge to identifying someone transacting business in the cyberspace.
The DPA explained that the SIM Cards Registration policy was instituted by the Federal Government as a strategic response to the challenges of identity tracking, especially in the context of kidnappings, terrorism and other forms of criminality in our society and globally.
Other measures of identity tracking in our national experience as Ojobo recalled for the audience, include the establishment of the National Identity Management Commission through the NIMC Act 2007 and other extant policies and programmes such as the issuance of International travel passports, BVN, Driver’s license, Voter’s card, the activities of the National Population Commission and the SIM Cards Registration programme supervised by the NCC.
Ojobo stated that every SIM card is a subscription on a network and NCC has over 130 million records being verified, and all of that will be transferred later to NIMC as the nation’s main custodian of identity management in Nigeria. Thus corroborating the position of the Director General/CEO of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz who made a presentation earlier.
To reinforce the intensity of his submission in a more concrete sense, Tony Ojobo said the centrality of trackable identity to the ease of doing business is clearly discernible in the reduction of mistrust and incidence of fraud. Ojobo also said the instituting of data capturing capabilities that guarantee trackable identity, storage of transaction history and enhancement of security in all online transactions speak to the importance of cautious undertaking in the cyberspace by all stakeholders.
We all need to be able to identify those we are dealing with especially in the cyberspace to reduce mistrust and fraud as well as to improve the integrity of transactions. The totalizing experience of these practices will also help in the fight against economic and financial crimes because according to Ojobo, “an increase in the level of ICT interface and a reduction in the instances of human, physical interface can reduce financial corruption”.
Ojobo also seized the opportunity of the forum to discuss NCC’s initiatives and programmes targeted at improving the quality of consumer experience, such as the institution of the DO NOT DISTURB Short Code 2442 that enables consumers to manage instances of unsolicited messages; and the NCC Toll Free Line 622 dedicated to the telecom consumers to enable them to escalate unresolved matters earlier reported to their service provider.
Indeed, Tony Ojobo’s treatment of the topic in his paper – coming after the week of global celebration of customer service week; and in the month dedicated to cyber security awareness (NCSAM) by NCC and its partners; as well as in the year NCC declared as Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer – really underscored the importance NCC attaches to the telecom consumer in Nigeria.
The programme of the Conference also included the investiture of Chief Nike Akande, former Minister of Industries and current President of Lagos Chamber of Industry; as well as Dr. Omeje Idris, President of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria as honorary fellows of NIPR. Six members of NIPR were also conferred with the professional fellowship of NIPR. This group include Dr. Tony Iredia, former Director General of Nigerian Television Authority, and Mr. Joe Itah, a former chairman of NIPR Abuja chapter.