The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has tasked the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to ensure the registration of all SIM cards in the country.
The Speaker said unregistered SIM cards have high-security risks, which should be taken seriously by the commission.
Speaking during a courtesy call by the management of the commission in his office on Wednesday in Abuja, Gbajabiamila said the House was ready to support the commission through adequate funding for effectiveness and efficiency.
Describing communication as the bedrock of any society, Gbajabiamila said Nigeria had “to keep up with the pace; we can’t afford to be left behind.”
The Speaker said Nigeria’s population keeps growing by the day, which he said would lead to an increase in the number of mobile phone users, calling on the commission to expand its infrastructure.
“The population is growing, and that will also mean that the number of users will grow. That means you have to expand your infrastructure. The National Assembly will then come in because there will be a need for funding. We will work with you to make sure you get whatever is necessary to make your job easier.
“I noted that you’ve licensed seven fibre companies. But I don’t know if one per zone is enough. In the future, you may need to increase the number.
“When you said there were about nine million unregistered SIMs at some point in Nigeria, we all know the implications of that. It has a lot of security risks. In the present situation in Nigeria, one is too many, not to talk of millions. We need to look for a way to address that.
“I don’t know why we have to leave the issue of SIM registration to the telecoms companies alone. NCC should be thinking of licensing indigenous companies to do the registration because our security will be at risk. I want to assure you that you have the support of the House in doing your job,” Gbajabiamila said.
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who led the delegation, had earlier told the Speaker that the commission was working on a project to expand telecommunications infrastructure in the country.
For this purpose, he said, the commission granted licences to seven fibre companies for the six geopolitical zones, while Lagos has one on its own.
“We are soliciting for the support of the Speaker in translating this project to reality. To do this, we’ve already granted licences to seven companies in different parts of the country.
“We’ve made Lagos as a zone on its own. We’ve assigned infrastructure companies to each zone. At the end of the project, we would have added over 30,000 kilometres of fibres. We will have over 70,000 of fibres all over the country in the end.”
He said at the last check, the commission ensured that the number of unregistered SIM cards was reduced from nine million to about two million.